Wherever there are friends and family, there is room for a beautiful bottle of wine. There are no rules governing what varietal is best, and there are no wrong ways to enjoy this joyful beverage. This concept is wonderfully illustrated by the ever-expanding menu of sophisticated wines becoming available to the public. Atelier wines, which is committed to water-efficient, sustainably farmed chardonnay grapes as well as land conservation, brings us its crisp 2021 Chardonnay made from grapes lovingly harvested in the Middle Reach neighborhood of the Russian River Valley in California.
Atelier notes that “the site that captured our fascination is a bed of Yolo gray clay over blue loam with a profoundly deep gravel base . . . Fruit was hand-harvested in the early morning and delivered whole-cluster, direct-to-the-press at first light. Only free-run juice was captured to produce this wine, and the clones were fermented separately, each with a different yeast strain selected to enhance the flavor profile of the fruit. 100% barrel-fermented in French oak, we favor second-fill barrels to minimize oak overtones.”
The company goes on to state that “we prize the barrels most for their fermentation contribution of mouthfeel as well as the surface area of sur lie aging they provide.”
According to Atelier, its wine is aged in-barrel for 11 months and undergoes frequent lees stirring for the first six months. After that, the lees stirring occurs less often “to fine-tune the texture.” From there, “the final blend was assembled in late summer and gently fined for brilliance of color and clarity prior to being bottled.”
Appearance: 2021 Atelier Chardonnay is pale gold with a slightly green cast. The label is deliciously crisp and minimal, as is the thick and milky white seal coating the cork.
With notes of Bartlett pear, earthy almond paste, and sweet honeydew melon, this wine opens up crisp and bright, just like an early California morning
in late summer.
Palate: Bright, refined and elegant, Atelier Chardonnay develops into a lemony, apple-forward body with a mineral finish that definitely recalls the specific clay, loam, and gravel soil in which the grapes were grown. Creamy more than buttery due to a honeycomb note, this wine has a delicate and soft finish.
Finish: Slightly tart, the finish is definitely where the lemon comes out to play. These notes, in addition to sea salt, keep the wine delicate and fleeting.
Final thoughts: You’ll note the significance that Atelier places on the morning. It may be sentimental of us, but we can almost fancy that the pale shafts of early morning light that are infused in the wine through the harvesting process are detectable on the palette. Even the mention of late summer brings visions of golden mornings and afternoons quite applicable to the wine itself. While many chardonnay wines can be considered butter bombs, Atelier’s chardonnay has perfectly calibrated roundness and acidity. Its tart and sweet elements keep it dancing on the edge of fruitiness without ever really landing there. Sweetly sophisticated, it manages to disappear from the palate just a little too quickly, just like the magic of a crisp early morning.
Atelier Chardonnay is 13.5% ABV
, retails for $45, and is available to ship to 29 US states.