Last week I was in Sonoma County, California for the Wine Bloggers Conference. While there I was constantly seeking wines to share with readers here. Although I love these conferences, it can be challenging to find good bargain wines at these events. Most of the wine producers want to showcase their top shelf wines at these events. And while I greatly appreciate those wines and thoroughly enjoy tasting them, the price range is often above what I would feature on this site.
That said, there were some outstanding wines to be found that meet my criteria for good value. One such wine is the Thomas George Estates, Sons & Daughters Ranch Chardonnay.
I tasted this wine at a dinner hosted at the winery. In full disclosure, this was a sponsored dinner — so while the dinner wasn’t free for me, the cost was significantly discounted.
Thomas George Estates is a fairly young winery, having been founded in 2008. They focus on producing chardonnay and pinot noir as small lot, vineyard-designated wines — so there’s not a lot of this wine produced. They only produced 2,000 cases of the Sons & Daughters Ranch Chardonnay and the overall production at the winery is just over 8,000 cases across all the wines they produce.
This chardonnay is from the Russian River Valley AVA, which happens to be a fantastic region for growing chardonnay due to its cool climate and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean. Even more specifically, the Sons & Daughters Ranch vineyard where the grapes for this wine are grown is within the Chalk Hill sub-region within the Russian River Valley. Chalk Hill tends to be a little warmer than other parts of the Russian River Valley and has less fog, but it is still a good climate for chardonnay.
One of the factors that likely contributed to the reasonable price of this wine is the fact that no oak was used in its production. Oak = additional costs. This one was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete egg. And the fact that this chardonnay saw no oak is also one of the factors that makes it delicious.
In addition to seeing no oak, this wine also saw no malolactic conversion. Technically that’s a process that converts malic acid to lactic acid. Practically speaking it’s a process that would make a chardonnay more buttery and add a creaminess to the mouthfeel. These are characteristics that some people want in their chardonnay and some people don’t. Essentially, it’s a stylistic choice. Without malolactic conversion this wine displays more vibrant acidity and tart apple-like flavors.
So, with no oak and no malolactic conversion this is what some would refer to as a “naked chardonnay.” It’s a style of chardonnay that presents the bright, fresh fruit aspects of the wine.
The nose of this wine offers lemon, cantaloupe and wet stone aromas with medium intensity. On the palate it’s super vibrant thanks to the bright acidity. The fruit is mouthwatering with granny smith apple, lemon, melon, peach and salty mineral flavors. The mouthfeel is nice and the finish is quite long. Overall, it’s a delightful chardonnay.
Wine: Thomas George Estates, Sons & Daughters Ranch, Chardonnay
Disclosure: This wine was tasted at a winery-sponsored dinner.