The bright flavors and supple texture of the MacRostie Chardonnay call for a meaty seafood dish such as shrimp, scallops, monkfish or lobster. With sautéed shrimp in a saffron-cream sauce, the MacRostie highlights both the creaminess of the sauce and the crisp snap of the shrimp, and the dish’s saffron echoes in every sip of the wine. (You can see the recipe and some pictures on our blog.) MacRostie Chardonnays are always food friendly, and this vintage is no exception.
While I’ll always buy big, buttery, oaky, tropical fruit-laced California Chardonnay for customers who prefer that style (and there are many), my personal taste runs toward leaner and more structured wines, as well as those that are well-balanced. Notes of mango, fig and pineapple are all right, but I tend to like Chardonnays that lean more towards apple and pear flavors. My wife takes it even further, seeking wines with more citrus and mineral flavors, such as good Chablis (which is 100 percent Chardonnay).
The MacRostie Chardonnay fits the description of what I like in a California Chardonnay almost perfectly. It’s crisp and dry, with a slight buttery note that takes well to cream and butter sauces. There’s just a whiff of vanilla on the nose, and it shows even less on the palate — but it’s there, and it works. The primary fruit flavor is tart apple with a bit of baked apple, too. In other words, I bought this wine because I really like it.
Steve MacRostie has been making wine since 1987, with a focus on the cool climate varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He’s also known for producing wine in a very traditional style, first in Carneros and now in the Sonoma Coast appellation.
The 2011 growing season was incredibly difficult: it rained at flowering, and the rest of the spring and early summer were cool and damp. To prevent rot, many growers cut back on foliage in late summer so that the grapes could get more air and sunlight. After they did, a weeklong heat wave struck and many grapes were burnt by the sun; then it rained again during the harvest. Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong — excepting a plague of locusts — and only the best growers and winemakers made truly high-quality wines.
One upside of the season was that long hang times can improve a grape’s flavors. If producers could get the grapes to the fermenter in decent shape, there was potential for some really good wine.
MacRostie’s Chardonnay harvest lasted over a month. All the wine, save a few lots, was fermented and aged in barrels, 20 percent of which were new; the rest was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The oak barrel lots were aged for six months on the lees with occasional stirring, adding richness and body to the finished wine. That rather short aging and the lees stirring are how MacRostie was able to achieve richness without a heavy oak flavor.
The wine is bottled under a screw cap, which helps to maintain freshness. Most of my colleagues and I favor screw caps. When wine is not meant for long-term aging, which is most of the time, they’re the way to go. There is even some debate over whether or not wines aged long term fare better under screw cap; it certainly hasn’t hurt this MacRostie Chardonnay