Chappellet’s 2015 Signature Carneros Chardonnay serves as Chappellet’s special reserve bottling, and it brings everything a Chardonnay lover could ask for in a wine and more. This is classic old-school Chardonnay. It delights the nose with savory scents of acacia, freshly picked apples and forsythia infused with delectable hints of brioche, caramel, vanilla, and spices. Elegant, yet complex and layered, the silky smooth 2015 Chappellet Signature Carneros Chardonnay delivers from start to finish. Pristine fruit, juicy minerals and just the right amount of vanilla and spice come beautifully wrapped in a gossamer gown of delicately toasted oak. Chappellet’s Chardonnays have a way of making our tasting panel members beg for more, and this one surely did, but then again Chappellet’s Signature Carneros Chardonnay is a true Chardonnay lover’s dream. In the mouth, the wine caresses the palate with harmonious flavors before exiting with charm, grace, and a lovely lingering finish. Enjoy the artfully crafted Chappellet Signature Chardonnay often and with a moderate chill (40°-45° F). For optimum enjoyment, let it air; it will continue to improve and keep on giving. Wow! Enjoy!
What is most impressive about Chardonnays from Chappellet, and the 2015 Chappellet Signature Carneros Chardonnay is no exception, is how satisfying it is to sip and savor as an aperitif; yet it is equally gratifying at table with seafood, poultry and pasta. Although less prevalent than a decade ago, many premium California Chardonnays still seem built to shock and awe rather than ingratiate, but not Chappellet’s Signature Carneros Chardonnay: it offers charm, grace, flavor, and sophistication to wine adherents, which makes it an ideal companion to Grilled Sea Bass prepared with a red pepper beurre blanc and served with a creamy tarragon infused polenta. Wild Caught Norwegian Salmon with a light Teriyaki glaze pairs nicely, too. Grilled Shrimp, served in a roasted red pepper and thyme sauce over risotto, makes another fine accompaniment. Mushroom Caps, stuffed with crabmeat and topped with an herb and prosciutto cream sauce, work magic with this Chardonnay as well. Chicken and veal also provide tasty pairings, especially Veal Portofino, tender veal scaloppini sautéed in butter, mushrooms, sage, shallots, artichokes and cream, but then again the 2015 Chappellet Signature Carneros Chardonnay also shines on its own in a clean glass. Enjoy!
Hugh Johnson’s quote says it all about Chappellet and the winery’s Signature Carneros Chardonnay as well as just about every wine this iconic winery produces, which is one reason Chappellet has enjoyed a cult following for its rich, complex, mountain-grown wines for fifty years. Longtime Chappellet winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus deserves much of the credit for Chappellet’s recent success, especially for the preeminence of the winery’s award-winning Chardonnays.
Phillip Corallo-Titus is a passionate winemaker who has guided Chappellet’s storied winemaking program for more than two decades. Building on Chappellet’s legacy as one of California’s preeminent producers of Cabernet Sauvignon, he has created Chardonnays as compelling as the estate’s legendary Cabernets. A gifted winemaker with a passion for experimentation, Phillip has not only embraced the diversity of Pritchard Hill and other select Napa AVAs to craft benchmark wines that authentically express the terroir-inspired complexity and character of their mountain origins, he has also created additional offerings from several of Sonoma’s most heralded vineyards. Chappellet’s Signature Carneros Chardonnay (this month’s feature) bears co-founder Donn Chappellet’s signature and is the estate’s flagship white and smallest production. Finely crafted Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Mountain Cuvee blends of Bordeaux varietals also merit serious attention at Chappellet, as one can always count on receiving vibrant, flavorful, and impeccably balanced wines from Phillip Corallo-Titus.
Chardonnay is the most widely cultivated white varietal on the planet. Twice each year at harvest time in its native France and countless locales on six continents north and south of the equator, Chardonnay grapes command premium prices. In tribute, Chardonnay produces the finest, most flavorful dry white wines in the world to which writers and connoisseurs devote countless columns and untold hours exalting its virtues and dissecting its flavors. Whether it be from Chablis or Champagne, Carneros or Sonoma, or from the most illustrious of vineyards perched atop the slopes of Corton and Montrachet, Chardonnay is the yardstick by which all other dry white wines have come to be measured.
With food, Chardonnay is a peerless match. Chablis and other Chardonnays that see little or no oak provide superb complements to seafood. Fuller, fleshier, and more heavily oaked renditions of Chardonnay, typified by the many Californian versions, can more than hold their own with more complex fare, such as rich cream sauces, poultry and white meats. Moreover, the finest Chardonnay wines shine on their own, requiring nothing but a clean glass to please the palate. Think Chappellet’s Signature Carneros Chardonnay!
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