We really like Chardonnay wines. But some of the California chards get a bit too oaky or buttery and end up clashing with some foods with which you’d serve a chardonnay. But not Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2015. It rocks…..in a really good way. It is a nicely balanced wine with just the right amount of fruit and acid graced by a lovely mouth feel and long finish. It has definite citrus overtones but they are moderated by a smooth vanilla and melon taste. The mid-palate has crème brûlée. We’ve sampled it over two and three days without any hint of deterioration. It would be a wonderful accompaniment to paired with poultry, vegetables and some mild-tasting fish. This wine generally sells for $12 dollars at assorted retailers and it is as good a Chardonnay value as we have seen in some time.
One thing that makes the Harken chardonnay stand out is that it is barrel fermented. Most Chardonnays in this price range ($15 or so) are oak barrel aged not oak barrel fermented. The vast majority are fermented in stainless steel tanks. Stainless steel tanks have been around since the fifties – they are long-lasting, easy to clean and sanitize, and are cost-effective. Oak barrels on the other hand can be expensive – $1,000 a piece and you get a barrel with wood grain and nooks & crannies for bacteria to hide – and if you are using them to impart oak flavoring, they can only be used up to maybe 5 times! Perhaps, because of this, the oak influence seems to be more integrated – more a part of the wine rather than just a flavoring. And 2: barrels allow evaporation which intensifies the flavors.
The Harken Chardonnay 2015 is very delicious and notable white wine that works beautifully both with and without food. We generally find it at Total Wine, but it takes some searching to find it. It is worth the effort.