New Zealand Winemaker Leads in California Chardonnay Revival
‘California chardonnay is back- yet again’ says Lettie Teague, of The Wall Street Journal. ‘Lighter, brighter varieties untouched by oak,’ are leading the revival according to Teague. New Zealand’s Fintan du Fresne, winemaker for the California’s Chamisal estate, can take considerable credit for the comeback. He was, after all, one of the pioneers of the style revival. But, as du Fresne told Teague, when he first asked to make a unoaked chardonnay, Chamisal’s owner said he was ‘crazy’. Now, 30,0000 cases of unoaked Chamisal Chardonnay are being sold – making it the wineries best seller. Du Fresne attributes oak-free chardonnay’s popularity to American winemakers desire for ‘a leaner less oaky style’. He told Teague that the unoaked style comes from ‘a complete reconstruction of chardonnay’. Du Fresne explained to her how the making of oak-free Chardonnay requires different grape clones, different fermentation techniques, cooler fermentation temperatures and, often, forgoing [the] malolactic fermentation [that produces a richer, more buttery wine].‘ Teague was impressed with the results. She described du Fresne’s 2011 Chamisal Stainless chardonnay as ‘lively’ and one of the best unoaked wines she had tasted.