Wente Vineyards Chardonnay Twitter Tasting

Tonight we participated in another online tasting with Wente Vineyards winemaker Karl Wente using streaming video and Twitter. Karl was on the video and we asked questions and made comments via Twitter. Karl then answered the tweets as all of us tasted the same wine. We tasted four Chardonnay’s, three from Livermore and one from Aroyo Seco. The three Livermore wines were the 2009 Wente Estate Grown Morning Fog, the 2010 Eric’s Chardonnay Small Lot and the 2009 The Nth Degree Chardonnay. The Arroyo Seco Chardonnay was the 2009 Wente Estate Grown Riva Ranch.

Each of these wines has it’s own unique story and characteristics:

The 2010 Eric’s Chardonnay Small Lot ($22) comes from specific blocks in the 92 acre Estate Vineyard. Small Lot refers to the micro winery where it is made. All the work there is done by hand and Karl Wente makes all of the wines in small batch fermenters with wild yeast and weekly stirring of the lees. The Eric’s Chardonnay is fermented and aged completely in stainless steel. 100% chardonnay. Very light yellow, viscous in the glass. Pears and apples on the nose, complex fruit flavors with good acid and a long finish. No malolactic fermentation, no oak just the flavor of the grapes. Only 100 cases produced, hence small lot. This wine becomes more floral as it warms in the glass. This was my favorite wine of the group.

The 2009 Morning Fog Chardonnay ($13) is named after the climate where the fog rolls in from the San Francisco Bay creating a Mediterranean climate. The juice was fermented 50% in used oak (French, American and Eastern European, 30% are 1 year old) and 50% in stainless steel. Both the barrel and tank were aged 7 months sur lies. The barrels were stirred once a month. The wine in the stainless does not go though malolactic fermentation. Same vineyard as Eric’s Chardonnay. Light yellow, slight wood (neutral) on the nose, not much nose otherwise. Slightly floral flavors with good acid. This was my second favorite wine.

The 2009 Riva Ranch Chardonnay ($22) was barrel fermented in the same barrels it would age in. Again a combination of French, American, Eastern European and neutral oak and for 10 months. The climate is cooler in the Arroyo Seco appellation with deep gravelly soil which gives different flavors and structure from the previous wines. It had a darker yellow color. Obvious nose of wood, spice and some tropical flavors. Packed with flavor, long finish and good acid. Great alone, would go good with food as well. 70,000 cases yearly. 60% new oak of which 70% is American, 20% French, 10% Eastern European.

The 2009 The Nth Degree Chardonnay ($45 – wine club only) gets it’s name because the vineyards were farmed to the “Nth” degree. Careful water management, multiple passes (at least 25) to remove leaves, shoots and clusters that don’t measure up. The wine was fermented in the same barrels it would age in with battonage (stirring) weekly. The barrels were a combination of French, American, Eastern European and neutral oak. Dark yellow color. Buttery nose, rich oak flavors and rich spice and fruit, though not tropical. A small amount of vanilla in the flavor and finish.

This is the second tasting we have done with Wente and I have to say they make some pretty nice wines. If you are thinking of going tasting in Livermore you should certainly check them out.

Disclaimer: These wines were provided to us as samples for the Taste Live tasting event.


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  2. It’s a lot of fun. We sit at the kitchen table with the laptop and watch the live streaming video of the winemaker and a guest. There is a twitter feed right on the web site (TasteLive.com) and all of the bloggers participating tweet their comments and questions. Since you use your twitter id to log in it also goes on your own twitter feed. We also tweet amongst ourselves, little jokes and comments. We put out four wine glasses each so Nancy and I can compare the wines to each other. It is really nice to have the winemaker tell you how he made each wine and answer your questions, too.

    If you go to http://tastelive.com you should be able to see all the tweets without logging on I believe. Anyway, it’s the second time we have done it and I can’t wait for the next.

  3. How did you like the on-line tasting experience? I was asked to join one the next time they sponsored one. I’ve never participated in one so I am curious about the experience.