Cellar Raid: County Chardonnay
Stanners Vineyard Chardonnay 2013
Prince Edward County, Ontario
I’ve got an ever-growing collection of bottles taking up a sizeable chunk of my basement, and until now I wasn’t sure I should share them with you. Most of them aren’t available anymore so I worried about being a tease. And more than a few of them are at higher price points than I’m comfortable recommending, because the whole point of this blog is to help you drink better for less.
But last Thursday, I said “Fuck it.”
That’s probably because I was deep into this bottle of absolutely outstanding Chardonnay and I just had to tell someone (you) about it. So let’s get down to business.
Stanners Vineyard is probably one of the most charming spots in all of Prince Edward County. It’s down a winding path off the main road – tucked away so far you think you’ve gone wrong, but then you find yourself in the loveliest barn surrounded by wildflowers and butterflies, chatting with the delightful Stanners family and you know you’ve arrived.
The winery was started by Cliff and Colin Stanners, a father-and-son team of winemakers. They both hold PhDs in some crazy science stuff and were amateur winemakers in their spare time before giving it all up to make wine full time in Prince Edward County. And I’m so glad they did. Their attention to detail, their personal touch (their wives help with a lot of that), and their commitment to quality winemaking has turned out some truly gorgeous wines (I had one of their Pinot Noirs earlier this year and it was ethereal and stunning).
This Chardonnay is from the tricky 2013 vintage. They suffered frost in their home vineyards in spring and lost much of their fruit, so only a tiny portion made it to barrel. (They’ve since invested in a wind machine to help ward off frost.) It was partially fermented in Canadian oak – the best kind of patriotism, if you ask me – and the results are amazing, especially given a few years in bottle for everything to integrate.
So how’s it taste? It tastes distinctly of the County, with its limestone terroir just jumping out of the glass encased in the subtleties of oak and electric acidity. It tastes like apples and flowers and citrus and coconut and popcorn. It’s toasty and nutty and honeyed. It tastes so, so delicious.
I actually recorded myself taking a note, so if you’d like to listen as I slowly lose my shit in real-time, just hit play. (Warning: I say like too much and swear a lot and there are weird sound effects for no real reason other than magic.)
I haven’t enjoyed a Chardonnay this much in a while. It’s a stand up and take notice wine that keeps you coming back for more. And it truly shows the value in waiting: when first released, the oak was a little bitter but it’s softened with time so the wine has become that much more delicious. It’s magic.
While this vintage is sold out, they’ve got newer vintages on the go. And the good news is, you don’t even have to leave the city to get it: the Stanners crew show up at farmer’s markets around Toronto regularly and they’re pretty much impossible to resist.
Nose: Lemon custard, brioche, nuts, and buttered popcorn. Orchard blossoms and apples and sunshine.
Palate: Bright acidity with a lovely texture. There’s mineral for days with a lovely buttery touch, that’s almost lemon lime greek yogurt with honey on top. It’s like bighting into a golden delicious apple with a side of lemon meringue pie topped in toasted coconut. It's so delicious and well integrated and balanced. Love it.