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Feb 23, 2007 11:46 AM

ISO "Buttery" Chard

I believe this style of Chard has gone the way of the Dodo. The girl is going out of her head trying to find a chard that tastes of Butter, Oak, and Vanilla. Does any one have any recs for a buttery chard? Thanks for the assistance.


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  1. I feel your pain! I am a closet buttery chard lover--I recently asked my wine dealer for a recommendation for his butteriest chard, and he sold me a 2004 Rombauer Vineyards. I have not tried it yet, but plan to next week when my only buttery chard lover friend is coming for dinner. For a less expensive bottle, I find J. Lohr to be reasonably buttery.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Marge

      In the same vein as Rombauer is Marimar Torres. Big, buttery, almost oily.
      Absolutely needs food.

      Another important component to consider when evaluating butteriness is
      the percentage of residual sugar (RS). Rombauer, as an example, has
      about 2% RS if I recall. RS can make a wine taste "bigger" in
      the mouth. Sometimes a wine is described at big and buttery, referencing its
      malolactic fermentation (ML) , when it's really the combination of very ripe fruit,
      oak aging, RS and other factors that create that big, buttery taste.

    2. The buttery flavor comes from being aged in oak rather than stainless steel. Check the back labels. If I recall, Kendall-Jackson is fairly buttery for the price.

      4 Replies
      1. re: fershore

        Most chardonnays aged in oak aren't buttery.

        I think the super-buttery California chards of the 1980s came from malolactic fermentation in new oak barrels.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I'd agree with that about most Chards. Rombauer Chard has developed a large following as 'buttery/oaky', but the '04 vintage (to my palate, anyway) seems more Oaky than Buttery. At least it has more of the American oak 'bitterness' in the finish, I've heard that this is an intended shift in the wine, but I don't know that for sure. I've heard Sonoma-Cutrer and Mer Soleil Chard talked about as Buttery/Oaky too.

          1. re: Midlife

            You took two of my three recs. out from under me. The Rombauer Carneros and the Mer Soleil are great "butter bombs." Sonoma-Cutrer (all three, RRV, Les Pierres and The Cutrer) have undergone a major change in the last five years, and are, IMO, attempting more of a Burgundian profile, with limited success. My third is the Shafer Napa Red Shoulders Ranch. None of these is a "value" Chard, but all are well-made and offer a lot of bang for the $, if one likes big, butter, oak, etc.


        2. re: fershore

          The "buttery" character is present because of diacetyl, and as Robert says, "most Chardonnays aged in oak aren't buttery."

          Diacetyl is a by-product of a wine which has undergone malolactic fermentation. The level of diacetyl is contingent upon a multitude of factors:

          -- the type of M-L bacteria present;

          -- the rate at which the wine undergoes malo;

          -- the temperature of the wine as it undergoes malo;

          -- the pH of the wine

          -- how much oxygen, sugar, sulfur dioxide and citric acid are present.

        3. One of the very greatest chardonnay's I've ever had, from anywhere, are the "reserve Bins" that Penfolds produced in the 90's... and they were great examples of a well-done butter style, IMO...

          Here are a couple links that describe them:

          Bin 94A:

          Bin 98A:

          I served the 94A at a big wine & food event several years ago.... we had some fantastic wines including some old Granges Hermitage, but the chardonnay was a real standout.

          And it was "buttery to the bone", viscous, almost like an auslese...

          Note that the descriptions all mention new oak aging and complete malolactic fermentation, unfiltered.... Anyone who doesn't like this chardonnay needs a palate adjustment :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chicago Mike

            I was not lucky enough to experience these. I've had several vintages of their Yatarna Chard, but not the Reserve Bins. I'll keep an eye out with some deep wine lists. While I will not experience them in their "youth," a appreciate a big Chard (well-made, of course), with some years on it.

            Thanks for the pointer,

          2. Add Frank Family, Clos du Val, MacCrostie & J Lohr (both Arroyo Vista & the less expensive one) to your lists.

            2 Replies
            1. re: torta basilica

              RE: the J Lohr, I think that the lesser is their Riverstone offering, unless they have added another.

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                That would be it - thanks! Retails for around $14, but I can often find for $7.00ish a bottle in Vons Pavilions, S California - best buy ever!!

            2. Chateau Ste.-Michelle is the butteriest I've tasted. Caramel-corny, even.