La Follette Chardonnay 'Los Primeros' 2016

Happy spring! It’s hard to believe that baseball season starts in just a few days and the wineI’m drinking tonight is, well, what I would call a fastball down the middle.  Nothing “curvy” about it (though, some might call it “round”?), just incredibly well-balanced, high-quality Cali Chard for a price that “strikes” me as a homerun.
 
With my apologies for the awful puns, this is La Follette ‘Los Primeros’ 2016.
 
Right off the bat, this wine takes me back to being in Sonoma and walking through the cellars.  Ahhhthat sweet smell of barrel cave.  I’m also getting white peaches, grilled pears, Meyer lemon, cream and a deft touch of oak.  Leaning towards “buttered popcorn” but this is NOT Rombauer cougar juice.  Far from it!
 
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of acidity in sun-drenched California wines (Chardonnay, especially) and too many producers don’t get it right.  La Follette gets it right, and the Los Primeros has plenty of succulent acidity for freshness, balance, and lift.  This is all to say: it won’t leave your palate in a state of (b)utter shock. 
 
Moreover, for those of you who prefer (only?) drink 'New' California: you’ll be pleased to know Ehren Jordan, owner/winemaker at Failla, is consulting winemaker.  And it shows.  The Los Primeros has Jordan's signature full malo-conversion, leaving it soft and supple, yet incredibly well balanced with loads of complexity.  

This is like a Failla Chard at half the price.
 
Los Primeros (meaning “first”) hearkens back to when Spanish missionaries pioneered grape growing in California, planting the first vineyards along the coast.  Today, these same vineyards are planted to some the of the highest quality Chardonnay grapes in the world.  Those sourced for Los Primeros are from three coastal valleys – 83% Sonoma, 15% Monterey, and 2% Mendocino.  74% barrel fermented, 26% tank, using native yeasts.  Full malolactic conversion.  Moderate alcohol at 13.7%.
 
A word about price/quality ratio:  We’ve written previously about the glut of Cali Chard in the $10-$15 and $30-$50 ranges.  On the lower end, you get a lot of new oak flavor and flab with very few examples proving to be anything close to ‘outstanding’ in quality.  On the higher end, you end up paying for the prestige of the label, the real estate, the fancy tasting room experience, etc.  To be sure, the wines can be good, even fabulous, but they’re not for the everyday consumer just looking for something delicious to drink on a Tuesday…
 
Cali Chard is practically my calling-card here at the Guild, and the La Follette Los Primeros is about the best bang-for-the-buck I’ve had...possibly ever.  At $21 and change, this wine hits that perfect sweet-spot – a strike down the middle – that perfect balance of price-to-quality.  Ok, enough with the puns.  Go enjoy baseball season, and this delicious Chardonnay. 

La Follette Chardonnay 'Los Primeros' 2016
Members: $21.60 ||  Non-Members: $27.00

Michael Davis