Drink of the Week: Eleven Eleven Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2021 - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Drink of the Week: Eleven Eleven Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2021

It’s important to admit when you were wrong. And many of us harbor all sorts of misconceptions about Chardonnay—particularly Chardonnay from Napa, California. Ask a room of wine professionals to characterize Napa Chardonnay. They’ll likely describe heavily oaked wines that smell and taste almost identical to buttered popcorn. That’s because, for years, certain winemakers from the region made Chardonnays that leaned more toward vanilla-scented opulence than, say, crisp Chablis. Their rich style has plenty of fans as well as vocal detractors, some of whom feel so strongly that they forged a movement called ABC, or “anything but Chardonnay.”

And yet, there’s more to Napa Chardonnay than one-note butter bombs. For instance, earlier this week, I happily sipped Eleven Eleven’s 2021 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay. Made from dry-farmed, organically grown fruit, the wine is aged entirely in French oak barrels for 14 months before it’s bottled. Twenty percent of those vessels are new oak. This might give skeptics pause since aging a wine in new wood can give it baking-aisle-adjacent flavors. 

Thankfully, this Chardonnay isn’t overpowered by any of the style markers that fire up the ABC crowd. Instead, it’s pleasantly round, with juicy stone fruit flavors and lemony acidity on the finish. “The pendulum has swung. And more and more of our guests are enjoying this sort of Chardonnay,” said Bradley Ward, the hospitality manager and estate ambassador for Eleven Eleven.

I can see why. Eleven Eleven’s 2021 Chardonnay is bright and balanced, and just the thing I’d want to pair with one of my favorite meals: grilled cheese made with kimchi and sharp cheddar. Is it as tart as the racy Loire Valley Chenins or Alsatian Rieslings that I typically order at wine bars back home in New York? No, of course not. But it’s an exciting option from a region and variety rarely associated with restraint, and a happy reminder that being wrong can be truly great. $60, shop.elevenelevenwines.com

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