Macrae Russian River Chardonnay (4)

Macrae Russian River Chardonnay 4-Pack
$54.99 $̶1̶2̶9̶.̶0̶0̶ 57% off List Price
2006 Macrae Russian River Chardonnay, Bacigalupi Vineyard
2008 Macrae Russian River Chardonnay, Bacigalupi Vineyard
CT links above

Winery website

So I got a nice surprise from the FedEx guy in the form of a single bottle. When I opened it up I was greeted by the 2008 Macrae Russian River Chardonnay. It got tossed into the fridge and was allowed to settle down a few days before being consumed before dinner.

Now to the notes:
Color was a nice gold with maybe a slight greenish tint.
WOW lots of tartrate crystals on the cork. Not sure if I’ve ever seen that out of a white. I’m expecting some acidity.
Nose was a light floral scent and I thought a hint of lychee but the lychee may have been cross contamination since my kids had eaten some and I had just put away the rest, not much else though maybe it was to cold coming out of the fridge.
Tastewise I got a lot of citrus, mostly lemon. My wife thought she tasted some minerality too, but I thought that was just the acid. This is a very clean wine with the acid not leaving much of a finish.
As the wine warmed I got a significant pineapple flavor which was pretty dominant and the finish changed with a green apple flavor. The acid kept my mouth watering too.

My wife thought this would be great with lighter foods and I agreed. I’d think some grilled white meat fish would work well as would more lightly flavored chicken.

It was a good wine though not my favorite style. I really liked the Salexis Chardonnay. And I wasn’t a huge fan on the Fleuron.

We had a bottle of the [Edit: 2008] very recently, and here were the impressions of three non-expert tasters:

The color was very pale yellow/green.

Tartrate crystals on the cork on opening and some in the bottle.

The initial nose poured from refrigerator temperature was a definite hint of butter. I was a little worried as I do not personally like buttery Chards.

The butter came through on entry, but was just a background component. Daughter got some stone fruit notes – peach or mango.

Very classic Chard profile with enough backbone to provide a palate-cleansing finish.

Bottle says 14.4% alc. but no noticeable heat.

When it warmed a bit, there were more floral notes, but no more butter.

I would be quite confident to serve this to anyone interested in drinking a good Chardonnay.

06’ or 08’?

Just a note that tartrate crystals are very common in white wines, particularly ones that have not been overprocessed. So if anyone is put off by the mention of this in the notes above, don’t be.

Just to further clarify, tartrate crystals develope in wines that are not cold-stabalized. They are completely harmless, but some people who don’t know much about them can think they are a bad thing and be very discouraged by the wine. When a wine is not cold-stabalized before bottling, when it is cooled to below certain temperatures after bottling, the crystals can form. Some wine makers choose to cold-stabalize wines (more often whites than reds), which entails cooling a wine very near to its freezing point prior to bottling to help prevent crystals from forming once the wine is bottled. Some winemakers skip this step since the crystals are completely harmless.

I was gifted the 2006.

Color was a medium to high golden yellow with a little green. The Chardonnay had a very full, succulent, slightly sweet nose that was almost sterile- it reminded me somewhat of petroleum jelly. The nose got a slight citrus note once it was dropped in the ice bucket for a bit.

It had a really nice, full mouth feel with little acidity. There wasn’t much fruit on the wine in the nose or palate, so perhaps they were going for an Old World style. It was fairly viscous- reminded me of swishing Jell-O through my teeth as a kid. The palate again had little fruit, but had a honeysuckle aftertaste that was nice. Palate also picked up a very faint citrus note once iced.

Overall this wine was easy to drink. It’s not recommended for food, as it has a very subdued flavor profile and low acidity. My personal opinion wasn’t that great, and I won’t be buying.

Today’s offering has two wines, that, in reading the posted reviews, may be past their prime. These have not been offered before, so there is no way to judge their quality from past posts. (Apparently, the Mccrae Family Winery has not offered any chardonnay since 2008, and only a single wine in 2009.) At the given price, it would appear to be an excellent value, but not at the expense of quality.
I reluctantly pass.

Sorry - 2008.

As always, the Wooter reviews (not Labrat) posted here are honest and informative, and the comments and discussion are most appreciated.

We spent some time discussing this one. After two separate tastings where the wines were enjoyed, we all agreed that these are intriguing examples of aged California Chardonnay (definitely drink now). Like the Macrae Pinot recently featured here, they offer a chance to taste an already-aged wine, and they hail from a historic, high-pedigree, California vineyard.

Typically, I would share your concern about Chardonnay from 5 and 7 years ago, but I see nothing in the reviews on this page that say to me that these wines are past their prime. In particular, one of the reviews here suggests that the wine was initially poured at room temperature, not necessarily the most favorable. Another was written by someone whose tastes I know and appreciate, and it said, in part, “I would be quite confident to serve this to anyone interested in drinking a good Chardonnay.” I’ve had some very good experiences with well-made Chards this old, and older. And I have Scott Harvey’s comment (made with reference to a totally different wine, but still pertinent), “I’m also impressed with any wine that Kerry Damskey makes.” All of that, coupled with what I know to be WineDavid’s strict policy of rejecting wines that aren’t worth the price, makes me think this is a worthwhile gamble at the price. Of course, YMMV.


I found a bottle of the 2006 in my inbox the other day.

We opened it with great interest.

Nice color, especially for an '06.

It had a lovely nose, some vanilla, hints of apple, some other stuff I couldn’t quite pin down.

The initial entry was very nice, and flavorful, medium body.

Then, in the middle palatte, it happened. At the back of the mouth, distinct and unpleasant bitterness that overwhelmed the taste of wine.

SWMBO and I tasted simultaneously, and had exactly the same reaction, going from saying how lovely the aromas and entry were to a “something’s wrong” is the wine moved into our middle palates. It’s not often we have exactly the same reaction at the same instant.

The bitterness and chemically flavors predominated the finish.

I would rate what I had as unsound, possibly bacterial contamination.

Suspecting a bad bottle, I was reluctant to post, but the woot powers encouraged me to post my experience after I e-mailed them last night. Good on woot powers!

I’m pretty sure it was a bad bottle, as this is not what the crew at the office found with their bottle of 2006.

If you get this, and experience anything like what I described in the 2006, you should contact woot as it would be a bad bottle.

Remember, wine is a living thing and you could have 11 great bottles in a case, and one undrinkable mess. (or vice versa…)

Drink now?

It would be interesting to try these, but as slow as I drink my wines, I reluctantly pass.

Thanks for your thoughts. We may be reading different things. I saw:
(2008) Nose was a light floral scent….not leaving much of a finish….this would be great with lighter foods….It was a good wine though not my favorite style.
(2008) impressions of three non-expert tasters….
(2006) There wasn’t much fruit on the wine in the nose or palate, so perhaps they were going for an Old World style….It’s not recommended for food, as it has a very subdued flavor profile and low acidity. My personal opinion wasn’t that great, and I won’t be buying.

I agree, it is a great price, but I wish I could be more confident. I really enjoyed the Scott Harvey zins and would trust his opinion, and I’m sure Mccrea does make great wines, but at what age? Both '06 and '08 were irregular vintages in Sonoma. I have been disappointed by some whites here (Pacific Rim gewertz comes to mind) and since I bought yesterday’s RRV PN, I have to be choosey.

Nope, we are all reading the same thing. All of those quotes hint at stylistic preferences and really suggest nothing about the wine being over the hill. Just because a wine is not “bright and fruity” does not mean that it is over-the-hill. You have clearly shown a disdain for aged wines in recent days, so I think we know where your biases lay in regards to interpretting the comments you quoted.

Ye gods and little fishes! I haven’t seen such sniping since I checked out of the Pol’tiks thread over 6 months ago. Take it to the 'pub, or something.

And, yes, I said it was a bad bottle. I can’t evaluate the wine generally when others don’t get the specific flaw my bottle had.

Thank you for your honest evaluation of this wine. It took some courage. And thanks to WineWoot for encouraging you to do so, even though it may have negatively influenced today’s sale.

A 4 pack of $15 bottles to try aged Chardonnay that has passes WD’s filter is reasonable IMO. If one gets a flawed bottle, woot is always good for it. If the bottles are just “meh” then they are party bottles or cooking bottles.

I think it is a worthwhile and interesting offer though I do share ghyo1’s concern on age. Even if these are past their fruity prime it doesn’t mean they are bad or wouldn’t be a good experience to have.