Sequoia Grove Chardonnay 2011, Napa Valley
Cost: $31-33
S ometimes lucky accidents happen.
I had a bottle of Sequoia Grove Chardonnay I had been meaning to try, but I completely forgot about it. It was tucked in with some newer bottles until I recently found it. When I saw the vintage was 2011, I thought the wine would be vinegar.
But when I tasted it all I could think was “Wow! What a beautiful wine.”
I have had good luck with aging Rhone varietals such as Marsanne and Roussanne, but not so much with Chardonnay. I don’t recommend aging white wines for very long unless you find some particularly rich and powerful wines. But if you come across some don’t toss them out until you give them a try.
This Chardonnay tasted so fresh and lively you would never guess its age. It was a little darker yellow in the glass than more recent vintages, but it was full of citrus aromas and flavors of lemon and lime with a hint of pear. The finish was long and smooth. This wine was good to sip by itself, but it really exploded with flavor when you paired it with food.
When the wine was released the winery said it could age for as much as five years, but they didn’t say it could still be good at nine years.
The winery tasting room sits among one of the last stands of majestic Sequoia trees in Napa Valley, in a remodeled 100-year-old barn. It is a beautiful setting for making and tasting wines.
Sequoia Grove is really known for its powerful Cabernet Sauvignon, but its Chardonnay–old and new–is also outstanding.
Winery: The property for Sequoia Grove dates back to Spanish ownership, but the wine history really started in 1978 when Jim Allen bought 22 acres in Rutherford that included an old barn. The barn now houses the tasting room.
Allen planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and other Bordeaux varietals. When the first wines were produced in 1980 they were an immediate hit. They became known for their complexity and Old World style.
Kobrand became a marketing and distribution partner and then bought the winery in 2002.
In 2001, Michael Trujillo became winery president. Under his direction, operations within the winery itself have become more small-lot and artisan-focused. Rick Bonitati is now the president and Molly Hill is the winemaker.
The Sequoia Grove Winery state property includes 24 acres in the heart of the Rutherford AVA and another 50 acres just across the Napa River to the east. The winery also has long working relationships with renowned vineyard owners spanning the entire Napa Valley from Coombsville in the south to Calistoga in the north.
Sequoia Grove believes in sustainability. Their winery and vineyards are Napa Valley Green certified. The winery also is 100 percent powered by renewable energy. It also donates one percent of sales from its Vineyard Series wines to the nonprofit Save the Redwoods League. 
Besides Chardonnay Sequoia Grove produces Gewurtztraminer, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Syrah Rosé, Petite Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, a dessert wine, several single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons at different price points and a premium red blend called Cambium.
Kobrand also represents Cakebread, Domaine Carneros, St. Francis, Taittinger and many other famous wines.
Sequoia Grove wines are made with 100% Napa Valley fruit from the original estate vineyard and the recently acquired Tonella Estate Vineyard in Rutherford, as well as from premier Napa Valley growers throughout Napa County.
When the winery outgrew the barn, a separate winemaking building was built, along with Napa Valley’s first completely subterranean cellar, a notable achievement given the Napa Valley’s notoriously high water table. The cellar maintains a year-round temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit.
Goes with: We had this wine with beer can chicken I made on the grill. Actually, when I make it, it should be called wine can chicken because I fill the can inside the chicken with wine, herbs and spices. The mix changes with my whims, but this one included Morton Nature’s Seasons, celery seed, basil, thyme, cayenne, and five pepper blend.
I love to cook whole chickens this way because they come out so tender and moist, and full of flavor.
The wine was a great match for the chicken and grilled potato, with the citrus flavor playing off the flavors of the herbs and spices.
I even saved some of the chicken for a virtual tasting I joined later that day. The chicken went well with four red wines that were in the tasting.
This is a great food wine that would pair well with all kinds of chicken dishes, soups, meals with a cream sauce, and fish and seafood.
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