4 Reasons to Drink THIS Chardonnay in 2022
According to Wine Spectator, Chardonnay holds the status of being America’s favorite grape, where upwards of 60 million cases are consumed annually. Although, many avid drinkers have noticed a decline in robust flavor in recent years, especially among the more approachable, cost-friendly options available. This is why one standout winery has entered the fray and begun garnering reactions from winos everywhere.
To shed some light onto what makes this Chardonnay stand out so distinctly from the industry’s overly crowded field, Harken Wine’s head winemaker Adam Popp brings you 4 reasons their Chardonnay will help you make 2022 an incredible year.
Quality Wine Without the Price Tag
As a dedicated winemaker, Adam Popp will gladly admit there are still Chardonnays out there with bold, oaky and buttery flavor profiles, but that big flavor typically comes with an equally big price tag. Worse, some of them can be very one-dimensional despite still being so expensive.
For Harken Winery, much of the trick was restoring superb, delicious quality yet keeping finished bottles affordable when they hit store shelves. This was always their main goal from the beginning: to create a Chardonnay that bears all the flavor of a “special occasion” wine while remaining at the price of a “Tuesday night” bottle.
“We’ve worked really hard to innovate how we make our Chardonnay,” Popp says. “It’s extremely time-intensive in order to get Harken to where we are satisfied with the end result.”
It’s Barreled – Yup, You Read that Right
Since the dawn of wine production thousands of years ago, wine has been made in barrels. In fact, the many flavors and aromas of Chardonnay are so compatible with an oak barrel that it’s almost divine. When you talk to Harken’s Adam Popp about this, he won’t deny there’s definitely a certain romance to the traditional process of barrel aging.
“I know there are new methods around today,” Popp says, “but if you ask me, there really is no substitute for the effect wood has on wine. No other grape varietal interacts as well with oak barrels as Chardonnay.”
To extract maximum flavor and balance, Harken Winery has experimented with both French oak and American oak barrels, taking advantage of the subtleties that each offers. After attempting to take the separate American and French oak barrels, then combining them after aging, the wine wasn’t as integrated as they preferred.
“As a result, I’ve decided to use very unique fusion barrels which are custom made for Harken with alternating staves of French and American oak around the barrel,” Popp explains of their unique hybrid methods. “This helps us ensure a well-integrated Chardonnay that we at Harken are proud of.”
It’s Hand-Stirred (Again, You Read that Right)
As a winery that truly believes in the power of oak, Harken barrel ferments and barrel ages 100% of their Chardonnay. By the time that bottle gets to you, it’s spent over 8 months in contact with oak. Remember, that’s not any oak barrel that Harken is in either – they only use their specially crafted fusion oak barrels, which are made of 50% French oak and 50% American oak.
“That way, each barrel has the best of both worlds,” winemaker Popp says. “Vanilla and coconut from the American oak and hazelnut and spice from the French oak.”
But that’s not all. At Harken’s storage facility, where thousands of barrels line shelf after shelf, their craftsmen repeatedly go through and hand-stir every single barrel as it ages.
Similar to continuously dipping a tea bag in tea to extract more flavor, this process of stirring each barrel by hand during aging helps extract more flavor in Harken’s wine.
Every Bottle Is a Labor of Love
When discussing how Harken wine came to be, Popp gushes about how the entire production spawned from a deep-rooted passion for Chardonnay.
“I wish everyone had the opportunity to smell and taste a fermenting barrel of Chardonnay in their lifetime,” Popp says. “Chardonnay has it all.”
Because of its outstanding versatility, Chardonnay is truly a winemaker’s grape – from how the varietal grows to how it perfectly suits an expert winemaking style like Harken’s.
“The first time I fermented a barrel of Chardonnay I was hooked,” Popp continues. “The way that ripe pear, apple and pineapple intermingle with vanilla, brown sugar and baking spice, it seems more like you’re baking a pie than making wine!”
Remaining One of a Kind
It would be easy to call Harken one of the best Chardonnays in the world at any price point, but the fact it’s so affordable is all the more reason to indulge. Despite their recent surge in popularity, Harken has no immediate plans to diversify their product line.
“I’m excited to be able to get back out into the market and meet with people and show them how great Chardonnay can be,” winemaker Adam Popp says, remaining dedicated to the craft of this one perfect grape.
Visit www.harkenwine.com to learn more and find a store near you where plenty of bottles are in stock. After one taste, you’re going to want to buy them all!