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Wine | Frank Family Chardonnay: Staying Flexible

Posted on: December 3rd, 2017 by Tom Peiffer No Comments

Of all the white wines, Chardonnay is certainly the best known.  You can find it everywhere in the world, and on more wine lists than can be counted.  But what makes it so interesting are the “variations on a theme” that every pour exhibits.

Frank Family Chardonnay- Staying FlexibleSure, geography and vintages play a big role in the variations, but winemakers also take part.  Among their favorite techniques are fermentation (Malolactic Fermentation) and barrel aging.

By changing the fermentation methods, Chardonnays can vary from crisply acidic (green apples), to seductively fruity (peaches and pears), or buttery mellow (Crème Brulee).  But when barrel aging is added, the wood aromas (oaky) can jump right out of the glass.

Over the past several years it has been an interesting journey to keep track of what is “in vogue” as winemakers follow (or try to create) trends with the ever-popular Chardonnay.  And with the 2014 vintage we seem to be in a less crisp, increased buttery, and oaky trend.  Oaky, now better.  Hmmm.

One of the best in staying with the Crème Brûlée and traditionally oaked California Chardonnay Chard styles has been Frank Family Vineyards (at the top of the Bay Area A-List again this year, congrats!).

Now, tasting their 2014 vintage shows a return to California style after a hiatus in 2013 to a crisper Chard.  In fact, their 2014 Chard is very much like their Chardonnay of a few years back (2011-2012), a little buttery, soft, and with slightly more oak.

It starts with a bouquet of apricot and just the right amount of oak.  This is followed by a rich creaminess on palate, nicely soft.  There is a little tart green apple zing followed by gracefully fading fruit.  All in all, it’s a little of the past, but with a fresher finish that’s not overly rich.

As always, the perfect pair for this king crab legs with drawn butter.  And the stone fruit tones somehow work with rice pilaf.  In short, the seafood pair remains an excellent choice with this ever-interesting wine.  It’s hard to mess this pairing option up.

So, if you’re looking for a traditional oaky, buttery soft Chardonnay this year, Frank Family has come home.  Hey, haven’t tried the 2015 yet.  Maybe it has swung back to a crisper, tart version.  Do we see a Chard vertical in the works?  Could be.

About the Author - Tom Peiffer

Tom has been an avid wine consumer and collector for over 20 years. This pastime has taken he and his family on many visits to wine growing regions, including Arizona. During these excursions, with the accompanying tastings and lectures, it became clear that there is no "magic bullet" wine. For each wine contains its own character, strong points, and weaknesses. Sharing these experiences to help anyone purchase locally available wines is his goal.

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