Stephen’s Pick: Joel Gott 2017 California Chardonnay $12.99

Most of the wines we write up every month are interesting, unique, or exceptional in quality, flavor, or some other remarkable attribute. The wine I decided to feature in our April newsletter was initially a seemingly pedestrian, mainstream, mass-produced, bottom of the cooler selection; however, I was guilty of a serious underestimation!

I knew that Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc was extremely popular because I re-stock it frequently. We started carrying the Chardonnay a few months ago and consequently, I had not tried it yet. Apparently the Universe wanted Joel Gott Chardonnay to get some hype because this morning – while pulling wines from our back stock cellar, I accidentally knocked a bottle over, and it (predictably) smashed instantly on the hard, concrete floor. At the very moment it hit the ground and formed a pool around the broken glass, the entire cellar area became filled with an extraordinary fragrance! It was like fresh slices of kiwi and cantaloupe gently strewn together in a bowl with honey and pineapple juice! The captivating fragrance diffused into the hallway near the cellar and as I quickly worked to clean up the broken glass, several co-workers walked by and asked me what the incredible aroma was. With more than a little surprise in my voice, I stated “It’s Joel Gott Chardonnay and I had no idea it smelled this good!”

Later that afternoon, I had a chance to actually try Joel Gott chardonnay and wow! It is extremely interesting when a wine’s taste profile is different from its bouquet (fragrance) and in this case – both were exceptional. It reminded me of an unoaked, white Burgundy and for an inexpensive California Chardonnay, that is saying a lot! The mouth-feel was full and round. The taste was lush and tropical; however, within a dry, elegant context. It was like a baked apple, dripping with honey and a very subtle hint of unsalted butter. After smelling and tasting this amazing wine, I did some research and discovered that Joel Gott Winery was started in Napa Valley in 1996. In addition to their surprisingly delicious unoaked chardonnay, they produce Sauvignon Blanc (previously mentioned), Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and many other varieties with grapes sourced from Oregon and Washington in addition to California.

Joel Gott produces varietal wines only – no blends or co-fermented wines. This aligns with their intention of being as true and authentic as possible to whatever variety they are making wine from. This is why they chose to create an unoaked chardonnay with indigenous yeasts, no enzymes, fining agents, or unnecessary additives.

The result is this truly exceptional, fragrant, mouth-watering, and utterly surprising Chardonnay. Pairs quite well with any dishes containing goat-cheese, shellfish, veal, pate’, Caesar salad, and even ham. Finally, based upon the ‘smashing’ discovery of this great Chardonnay, it is delicious enough to enjoy on its own – complex, many-layered, and as fresh as the rapidly approaching spring.