I tend to avoid oaked California Chardonnays because often they are throwbacks to when California oaked Chardonnays were overoaked. Before I became more discerning than I am now the novelty of a Wente Oaked Chardonnay was compelling but after a few more bottles and a Yellowtail Southeastern Australian oaked Chardonnay the novelty wore off.
Oak can be an ally of Chardonnay if used judiciously and it can suit a variety of dishes primarily simply prepared crustaceans such a lobster dipped in butter garlic sauce or a sauce vongole but at some point it tips over the line and it becomes overdone.
California has deoakified many of its Chardonnays so I am more willing to give them a chance. So what is up with the Harken 2019 California Barrel Fermented Chardonnay?
It has a medium gold colour. It is definitely oaked perhaps creeping to the edge of no return. But before making that decision there are notes of pineapple, butterscotch, honey and pineapple upside down cake just out from the oven. Do they still bake such cakes or am I lost in 1965? I remember in those days it was canned Aussie pineapple that was prevalent so I may be back in the time machine. Do they still have crushed pineapple in a tin?
On the palate yes crushed Aussie tinned pineapple with canned pears. Moderately long finish.
I will give a nod to the wine and say well made and simple but not my style. You may like oaked Chards more than I do and that is your choice. If I was outside on a hot summer evening I could happily consume with some BBQ chicken or Alaskan crab legs and reminisce over those silly days of COVID but as a sipping wine I might hem and haw and wait for the bounty of the grill.
Drink by the end of 2022 BBQ season.
(Harken 2019 Barrel Fermented California Chardonnay, Harken Wines, Parlier, California, $21.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 16957, 750 mL, 14.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).
P.S. After writing my review I took a look at the review of the wine and the reviewer in the LCBO Vintages catalogue noted aromas of pineapple upside down cake. I am not the only dinosaur roaming the earth.