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ISO "Buttery" Chard

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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.

            Hunt

        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: https://www.nicks.com.au/ProductDetai...

          Bin 98A: http://www.adamswine.com.au/cgi-bin/o...

          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,
            Hunt

          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.
              Hunt

              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.

              1. Am I the only guy who likes "buttery" chardonnay ?? I don't think there's any wine out there that's gotten a worse rap for no reason.... it's like a woman with a few extra pounds, voluptuous is NICE

                6 Replies
                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  Mike,

                  I enjoy them as well, though my wife is their biggest fan. For Chard, I like austere Chablis, all the way to the Romabuer. However, I do find the FR variations are a bit more food-friendly, so I lean toward the Meursaults and Montrachets first. OTOH, I enjoy sipping a well-made Chard, regardless of its heritage.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Yes, I might narrowly favor a more "austere" style with food... but just barely.

                    My preference would always be the better FLAVOR, regardless of style. Perfection in chardonnay is so elusive that I put flavor depth ahead of style.

                    1. re: Chicago Mike

                      Just some thoughts . . . .

                      There is no way that I would describe (most) white Burgundies from the Côte d'Or -- be they a Grand Cru Corton-Charlemage or Montrachet, right through villages-level Meursault, Chasagne, Puligny and the rest down to a simple Bourgogne -- as "austere." Some are more austere by relative comparison to one another (e.g.: Chassagne is generally more austere than Puligny, but rarely would I label a Chassagne as "austere" in the abstract); some are more austere by *producer* (e.g.: a Puligny-Montrachet from Sauzet is more austere stylistically than a Puligny-Montrachet from Leflaive). But it's only when you leave the Côte d'Or proper and go north -- to Chablis -- where I find wines I'd generally describe as "austere." But that's still not a blanket statement, as most Grands Crus and many Premiers Crus are not austere at all.

                      I completely agree with you that "perfection in Chardonnayis [very] elusive." And, I believe there is no reason to drink tasteless wines, period. Thus, I, too, look for flavor -- though I might say "complexity" rather than "depth," just to avoid someone incorrectly assuming that depth equals body (weight), rather than "layers of flavor." (But that's me -- and perhaps a completely unfounded concern.) For me, therefore, when it comes to Chardonnay, perhaps 80+ percent of the Chardonnays I buy and/or drink comes from Burgundy -- from Chablis in the north, right through the Côte d'Or to the Mâconnais in the south.

                      Certainly there are many excellent Chardonnays produced in other countries/places. But -- and again, this is just my experience -- I find I have to look harder for them. They are there, to be sure: I have tasted some wonderful Chardonnays from New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Italy, California, Washington, Oregon, even Virginia. But I find too many Chardonnay producers seem to rely on new oak for their flavor, or even cellar techniques like full malo (whether necessary or not, and often it's not) or bâtonnage, rather than getting their flavor from the grape itself.

                      Just my 2¢ . . . YMMV.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        "Austere" came up in reference to Chablis. That's the easiest adjective to characterize the difference between Chablis and Burgundy.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Let's not pick each and every nit, Robert -- I was responding to the following exchange, period:

                          Bill Hunt: "For Chard, I like austere Chablis, all the way to the Romabuer. However, I do find the FR variations are a bit more food-friendly, so I lean toward the Meursaults and Montrachets first . . ."

                          ChicagoMike: "Yes, I might narrowly favor a more "austere" style with food... but just barely."

                          Given that Mike seemed to only reply to "austere," while Bill cited Chablis AND Meursault and Montrachet, I was merely offering up the idea that many "FR variations" are not austere at all.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            And to followup, my use of "austere" was meant to be within the framework of Burgundian Chards. Compared to 1er Cru Montrachets, I do find an element of austerity with same-level Chablis. While compared to the many international, one-dimensional Chards, well-made Chablis are anything but austere, but compared to, say Cortons, Montrachets, etc., I find them to be. Maybe like my "development chart" (elsewhere), I was not clear of the frame of reference, and apologize for that lack of clarity.

                            Hunt

                2. There was a pretty good discussion on this subject last September:

                  Wanted: Buttery Chardonnay for everyday drinking - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/330325

                  If you're looking for a decent sub-$10 bottle to try, Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" Chardonnay was nice and buttery when I tried it a few years ago. I think the retail price is $11, but it seems to be available everywhere here in Northern CA and is often on sale for about $8.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: HungryMojo

                    I agree, Columbia Crest Grand Estates is a decent, buttery wine. I have a hard time finding really good, complex buttery chards. I am always on the lookout. I have found a couple of decent ones, although I can't recall the price, Apex, which is at Total Wine, less that $20 I believe. and also Franciscan has a good one, Cuvee Savage. Last I bought it I paid $22.

                  2. Dutton Ranch is known for their "butter bombs" and Francisian can be described as buttery by some.

                    1. One word: Cakebread.

                      1. Luca chardonnay (from Argentina) is quite buttery. I tasted the 2005 the other day and found it more balanced than some past vintages. Decent value at $25-30. Comes in an annoying fat bottle that won't fit in my Vinotemp racks.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Your comment on bottle size/shape would be a good subject for another thread. It is a pet peeve of mine. Not familiar with the Luca though. Most of my Argentinian experience has been with the excellent Mendoza Malbecs. I'll look into this one - thanks.

                          Hunt

                        2. Far Niente. Butter reighs there, always. I know it's pricy....

                          chateau Ste. Michelle Eos Chardonnay has a nice dose of butter .

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Far Niente has never produced a ML chardonnay. It's part of the basic philosophy of Far Niente. Please check if you're not sure. It's a lovely Chardonnay but gets its sumptuousness from absolutely perfect fruit and sur lie.

                          2. Actually in the Napa Valley, along the Silerado Trail is the Silver Rose Inn/Spa/Cellars. The owner does the winery tours and touts the butteryness of his Chard. Here's a description:

                            "2003 Chardonnay "D'argent" (Club D’argent Case Price $456.00 / $38.00 Per Bottle ) This 100% Napa Valley Chardonnay from Bella Vista Vineyards has been produced by classic grape growing and winemaking techniques that resulted in award winning previous vintages. The wine was barrel fermented in French Oak barrels and aged sur lie to enhance the richness this wine offers. The aroma has notes of pear, citrus and the elegant bouquet of fully mature Chardonnay grapes. This finish is long, buttery, and rich. "

                            If you're interested - http://www.silverrosecellars.com/wine...

                            1. I find Toasted Head to be quite buttery (too buttery for my taste) and it's not expensive (~$15/bottle).