Toad Hollow Vineyards. The names and labels are whimsical, but underneath the corks lie serious wines. The winery was founded in 1993 by Todd Williams and Rod Strong, and their first product was an unoaked Chardonnay. This bottling represents their 20th anniversary, and with a wink to the concept that "no trees were harmed in the production of this wine", the company is making a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation in the form of one tree planted for every case that is sold. Lots of people talk about saving trees by not printing out e-mails or using old envelopes to take notes, but now you can also join in by drinking unoaked Chardonnay.
I'm not against oak in Chardonnay, and indeed it is integral to proper aging of some of the best white wines in the world. But there are also other occasions where you don't need such a huge presence on the table, but rather want something lighter and easier drinking to match with more delicate food or dinner companions who have been burned on rough wines in the past. This particular grape can be expressed so many ways, in so many different places, that I cringe whenever someone tells me that they hate Chardonnay. You don't hate all Chardonnay, just that one that left a bad taste in your mouth. I've seen more than one person be surprised at a blind tasting with a good unoaked Chard.
2012 Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay "Francine's Selection"
$15, 13.9% abv.
The wine starts off with light apricot and peach aromas. Great ripe white fruit flavors and a big round body. On the palate it has low acidity and a brief finish, making it perfect for enjoying with that spring salad incorporating fresh fruit, grilled chicken, and nuts.
Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.