Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

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Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Hoke » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:24 am

I'm looking for advice and guidance, and since everybody here has a firm opinion, I thought I'd throw it out to you guys.

What is the most egregiously over-oaked chardonnay you know or have experienced recently. Preferably something I can find relatively easily.

Since I don't drink nearly as many chards as I used to, I need a refresher. Hey, even the Beringer Napa Reserve Chard has lightened up recently, and actually lets a little fruit come through. So who can you trust?

I know Mer Soleil used to be an abomination. Is it still?

Any others out there?
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Michael Malinoski » Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:19 am

I am going to avoid labels like abomination, but Rombauer comes to mind when I think of heavy oak treatment in Cali Chard. Should be easy to find, I think.

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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:06 am

Thats pretty apt as I had a glass downtown this evening at my local winestore. Everyone was owing and wowing, me vanilla, honeysuckle, new oak. Not my style at all $48 Cdn.
Five Rivers from Mendocino was also poured, just like many other entry level chards for under $20. Nothing distinct.
Going back to the question, how about those `90 Roxborough from Rosemount?
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Jeff_Dudley » Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:52 am

Well, Kistler's entire line from the late 90's absolutely reeked of an overzealous hand with oak; I'm not so sure of more recent vintages. However, at their steep prices, current releases are quite easy to find around here in SoCal.

Are you planning to find an over-oaked version to enjoy - or to instruct ? :wink:
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:53 am

Forest Glen and not just because of the name!
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby John Tomasso » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:16 am

We used Toasted Head in a comparative tasting once, to illustrate the a heavily oaked Chard vs an unoaked example.
It worked well.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Rahsaan » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:02 am

John Tomasso wrote:We used Toasted Head...


Name says it all, huh.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:19 am

Toasted Head, as the name implies, makes a virtue out of oak, which I actually find a little more appropriate than makers who load on the wood and then write back labels talking about "balance."

Used to be that anything with "Sbragia" on the label used to be waaaaay over-wooded for me, but I'm talking old times here; ditto "Sine Qua Non."

Hoke, since this is smack dab on point for this month's Wine Focus, do you object if - after you've had a few days to get responses here - I move the discussion over to that forum?
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:11 pm

Rombauer is first to come to mind. Lumber factory. Sonoma Cutrer?

Beringer Sbragia, Newton Unfiltered, and Cakebread are also high up on oak list, but maybe handle it a tad better.

Kistlers are indeed heavily oaked, but such fruit power that it doesn't bother me quite as much. I'll risk scorn here by saying I enjoy a small glass once a year or so (preferably not with my meal). :)

Toasted Head is a good cheaper example,but as Robin says at least they are upfront.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Hoke » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:20 pm

Robin: Sure, move it whenever you wish.

And thanks to all for responses so far.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Frank Drew » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:49 pm

Geez, where to begin? At the top end ($$), the few of Peter Michael's wines that I've had lately struck me as well-crafted blends of oak and alcohol.

It's much harder to find any California Chardonnays that aren't over-oaked, to my palate. Stoney Hill is one, but there aren't all that many others.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Michael Malinoski » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:51 pm

Sorry, I cannot disagree more on the Peter Michael wines. I find those lusciously fruited with great drive and precision, accented for sure by deft oak--not too dissimilar to Aubert, for example. All others mentioned thus far I agree with, however, though the '05 Newton Unfiltered was less obvious with the oak than previous vintages, IMO.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:52 pm

Dale Williams wrote: Sonoma Cutrer?

Opinions may vary, Dale, but I just reported on the basic-level ($24) Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast the other day and found it a nice example of balance, with just a kiss of oak to my taste buds. (As I interpreted the fact sheet on the Website, it's barrel fermented but does not seem to see oak aging, or at least they didn't mention it.) Maybe you're thinking of some of the higher-end vineyards? I rarely if ever taste them, so can't testify.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:53 pm

Hoke wrote:Robin: Sure, move it whenever you wish.

And thanks to all for responses so far.

Let's leave it here while it stays hot, Hoke, then move it over for more permanent reference (and maybe a few more replies) after it starts to drop down the page. Thanks!
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:03 pm

Robin, I put a question mark because my experience is minimal. But a "Pierre" bottling couple years ago was an oaky mess
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Hoke » Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:10 pm

[quote="Dale Williams"]Robin, I put a question mark because my experience is minimal. But a "Pierre" bottling couple years ago was an oaky mess[/quoteis]

The Les Pierres is aged in oak barrels, but it is a regimen of used barrels only---it never sees any new oak.

And while I know that mileage varies considerably, describing LP as "an oaky mess" is quite puzzling to me. This is the wine that Aubert de Villaine, Bernard Morey, Rene Dauvissat, and a few other Frenchwho know a little about chardonnay have lauded as the finest, and most restrained, balanced and harmonious of California chardonnays.

I could understand it a bit more if someone referred to The Cutrer that way, as in the past it has shown (to me) more fatness and overt presence of oak. But not Les Pierres.

Hm. Sounds like a throwdown to me. :)
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:36 pm

Hoke, I just searched the old WLDG as well as the Usenet and can't find my notes. So can't swear it was Les Pierres, thought it was a singular name, and don't know vintage. In any case it won't be the first time I thought a wine oaky and found it was in mostly or all old oak. :oops:
As to Aubert de Villaine, not so wild about the HdV Chard, either. :)
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Dave C » Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:44 pm

Hoke wrote:I'm looking for advice and guidance, and since everybody here has a firm opinion, I thought I'd throw it out to you guys.

What is the most egregiously over-oaked chardonnay you know or have experienced recently. Preferably something I can find relatively easily.

Since I don't drink nearly as many chards as I used to, I need a refresher. Hey, even the Beringer Napa Reserve Chard has lightened up recently, and actually lets a little fruit come through. So who can you trust?

I know Mer Soleil used to be an abomination. Is it still?

Any others out there?


I'm sure I've been in trouble over this term 'over-oaked' before:-

I take it that 'over-oaked' wine isn't as - any producer would say 'It's not over oaked - it's made to be like that'

But as soon as I read a wine label - and believe me I always read the label now - as soon as I read 'aged in oak barrels'
I put it back on the shelf.

I'm not fond of 'over-oaks' wines!

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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Jenise » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:17 pm

Can't disagree with any of the nominated names. Yes, as of last Friday and the 2005 vintage, I can give witness to the fact that Mer Soleil's still massively oaked, but it's further complicated and sweetened by what I presume to be 100% malo. An even more egregious total oak experience to my palate is the Souverain, which is not only massively oaked it's very very toasted oak which obliterates the chardonnay taste even further.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Mark Noah » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:32 am

When reading the title of this thread, Sonoma Cutrer's basic bottling came to mind. I believe it was the Russian River. I've never had the Sonoma coast, but the Les Pierres is very well made. Great fruit up front with any oak or malo sitting in the background. I've not heard only used or neutral oak is used with this bottling. From tasting this multiple times over the last several years, I would guess this wine sees al least some oak that still imparts flavor.

The Cutrer is even better.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby wrcstl » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:50 am

For me it has to be Beringer Sbragia Chard. Went to a tasting where the wine maker, Sbragia, was there. I could not believe how undrinkable this was. I even asked him, politely, why do you use so much oak. I got an answer that mainly said "it is my style". To add insult to injury it is not an inexpensive wine.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:23 pm

Rombauer has already been mentioned-gosh I cannot understand how people drink that stuff. Their "cousin" winery Frank Family is also very very oaky, although a little more balanced, imho. What's sstrange about Rombauer is how nice theri Bordeaux varietal wines are. The Merlot was positively balanced. The Zin, however, tastes like thin, alcoholic sweet kool-aid.
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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Mark Lipton » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:12 pm

With the proviso that I drink very little CalChard and avoid wines that I suspect will be overly oaky, the oakiest CalChard of recent memory was the '04 HdV Hyde Vyd Chardonnay, which was depressingly overoaked to my taste given its parentage.

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Re: Most over-oaked chard you can think of?

Postby Hoke » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:15 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:With the proviso that I drink very little CalChard and avoid wines that I suspect will be overly oaky, the oakiest CalChard of recent memory was the '04 HdV Hyde Vyd Chardonnay, which was depressingly overoaked to my taste given its parentage.

Mark Lipton


Based on one recently tasted at Della Santina's, Mark, I'd agree.

(And btw, the use I have in mind for an over-oaked chard doesn't necessarily mean I'm looking for a California chardonnay----any old over-oaked chard from anywhere will do. And for those who are still following, I already had Rombauer in the lineup, so I was looking for something more egregious than that. I know; horrible, huh?)
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