Atwater "Skin Fermented" Chardonnay 2014: $30 Fair+

The Atwater Vineyards “Skin fermented, barrel aged, unfiltered” Chardonnay (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, NY) $30 [Fair+] is without doubt the most radical of the “orange wines” from the Finger Lakes.  Apart from the skin fermentation, Atwater aged this wine in oak barrels and did not filter it.  As a result, the wine is cloudy and there is a great deal of lees sediment in the bottom of the bottle.

Many wine drinkers will be put off by this wine’s appearance, despite the very pretty & cheerful label.  But the real problem here isn’t appearance, it's the surfeit of bitter and savory flavors which outgun the fruit.  This wine would have been better sans oak, thereby removing a source of disharmony, giving the fruit a chance to express itsself.

Medium peach gold in color, the Atwater is cloudy and there is ample sediment in the bottom of the bottle.  Moderately intense scents of baked peach, apricot, citrus, vanilla and spice seem at war with steely/stony and oaky notes, which threaten to hijack the nose.  Medium to full bodied, dry, with light-to-moderate tannin, the wine has an open-knit mouth feel.  Flavors of apple, baked peach and citrus are underlined by a saline streak and strongly accented by stony, oaky, and bitter notes, which detract.  The finish is on the short side, with bitter and oaky notes predominant. September 2015.

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© Douglas Hillstrom 2014