Francis Ford Coppola has become an icon in Northern California’s wine country, but why does a man this important — whose Oscars and Palme d’Or can be seen firsthand at the pool-equipped day resort/tasting room he runs in Sonoma County — need no fewer than five Chardonnays? (In truth there are at least seven.)
While you puzzle over that one, we were tasting the 2011 vintages of these wines. Thoughts follow.
2011 Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay Director’s Cut Russian River Valley – Surprisingly sweet, with lychee and mango notes up top, some lemon underneath. Modestly buttery body. The finish is a touch bittersweet. Altogether curious, but not overly balanced. B / $21
2011 Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay Votre Sante California – “Burgundian style” Chardonnay, which is a little flabby and muted on the fruit notes. Some vanilla notes creep into what is otherwise a predominantly butter and wood affair, although a touch of lemon on the nose elevates things a bit. B- / $14
2011 Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay Diamond Collection Black Label Pavilion – That’s a mouthful (and ornate packaging, wrapped in gold wire and all) for what is a relatively simple wine. Lemon and mango notes on the nose take you to a buttery, but not woody, body, very lightly acidic with a modest, somewhat meaty finish. More tropical character on the back end. B / $20
2011 Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay Diamond Collection Gold Label Monterey County – An even bigger name for a straightforward butter-and-nut affair, very mild fruit notes being displaced by fresh herbs, lavender, and a chewy, somewhat meaty finish. Slightly bigger in body than most of the wines on this list. B / $16
2011 Francis Coppola Director’s Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Sonoma County (pictured) – No “Ford” on this one, oddly. This might be my favorite of the bunch, a good balance of brisk citrus and mild buttery body. Very easy drinking, even with some subtle asparagus notes to give it depth. A- / $17