LIOCO's Chardonnay Homage to California and Burgundy


2014 LIOCO Sonoma County Chardonnay
Sonoma County, California
13.2% Alcohol
Highly Recommended

Despite the recent rise in popularity of unoaked white wine, there is still an overabundance of butter-bombed and overoaked Chardonnay coming out of California these days. This bottle is the antidote to that silliness; a crisp, refreshing, and complex homage to Burgundy that pays equal tribute to its California roots, all for just under $20.

LIOCO is the first winery to have two wines reviewed on the blog. If you remember, I reviewed the 2010 pinot noir many months ago to equal praise. I don’t buy their wines often at home but I’ve had good luck finding them while I’m traveling. I like LIOCO for a lot of reasons, mainly because they consistently produce delicious wine, but also because of their commitment to transparency. It’s rarely a bad sign when you discover detailed notes about vineyard practices and winemaking on the back of the bottle. These details are generally a reliable marker of high quality wine and LIOCO always includes them on the back label of their wines.

The grapes that produced this fine juice came from several sustainably-farmed vineyards in the Russian River Valley area of Sonoma County. The grapes were hand-harvested and destemmed, with the majority placed in stainless steel tanks and the balance in large oak casks. The wine underwent complete malolactic fermentation, was aged on fine lees for 8 months, and was lightly filtered through cross-flow filtration before being bottled.

The color is a pretty pale lemon/gold and came out of the bottle with a very slight spritz that dissipated after several minutes in the glass. The nose is clean, pure, and vibrant with notes of minerals and stone, creamy lemon, and pithy grapefruit. The lees are well-integrated on the nose and add a mild richness and intriguing level of complexity. I love most white wines, especially Chardonnay, that are aged on lees. Lees add a complimentary but never overwhelming facet to many different types of white wines. I like to think of them as the glue that melds all of the smells and flavors together.

The palate has a brisk acidity but a pleasant and round mouthfeel and is largely a reflection of what I found on the nose. The finish is medium to long in length and there is a slight bitterness that provides some grip on the palate. Similarly to the nose, the aging on the lees connects the flavors nicely and is the perfect level of intensity. Overall this Chardonnay was well-balanced and life-affirmingly delicious. It reminded me a bottle of Brickhouse Chardonnay I love from several years ago. This was exactly what I wanted it to be and for that, I highly recommend it.