My recent trip to Carneros also included a fabulous visit at Bouchaine. My brother-in-law really loves their Chardonnay and lately we have had a difficult time finding it in Atlanta. The best thing to do in that situation is hop on a plane and head to the winery. Bouchaine specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, however, their portfolio also includes quite a few really interesting wines from lesser known varietals.
We started our visit in the tasting room with a sampling of their current releases. Highlights for me included the 09 Chene d’Argent Chardonnay ($30). This is a crisp, clean and bright wine. They do not use any oak on this wine so the wonderful flavors of the grape shine and blossom in the glass. Love love love this wine.
Another really wonderful wine that I tasted was the 2010 Pinot Meunier ($40). I had never had this varietal on its own (it is used as a blending grape in primarily sparkling wines), so this was a neat experience for me. And a delicious one at that. The Pinot Meunier was a very unique wine; similar in body to Pinot Noir, however, it had an earthy and smoky essence reminiscent of Syrah.
Bouchaine also makes some stand-out Pinot Noirs, and I was especially impressed with the 08 Estate Pinot ($50). As I have mentioned in previous posts, I prefer an earthier style of Pinot, and this beauty fits my palate perfectly.
The next part of our visit was really fun. We went on a tour of the wine making facility and did some barrel tasting. I was accompanied by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and they had never had that type of experience before which was great for them.
On the tour, we got to try three styles of Chardonnay right from the barrel; the unoaked Chene d’Argent, the mildly oaked Carneros Chardonnay and the fully oaked Bouche de Beurre. The cool thing about tasting them side by side is that you get to really understand how the use of oak barrels affects the taste of the wines. In my opinion, oak is like a spice. Some people love it, some people don’t. Some wineries use just a little, some use a lot. It really is up to the preference of the wine lover to determine how much oak is the “right” amount. And this type of tasting experience will really let you compare and decide what you like best.
I absolutely recommend a visit to Bouchaine. You will learn quite a bit about world-class, cool climate wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and if you plan ahead, you can request a tour and barrel tasting. This type of an experience is very fun, and will allow you to get to know your palate and wine preferences better. Make sure to block some time when you are done to enjoy the gorgeous view from the back deck.
Rating: 4 out of 4 – highly recommend