A few weeks ago I ran an activity at our retreat in Mexico on how to taste and write about wine.  We reviewed a wine I hadn’t tried before called Paul Hobbs “Crossbarn” Chardonnay 2013, so I was part of the tasting and writing process real time with the teams, which although wasn’t my intention it was a smashing success. 

Prior to this session, I did a trial run through with a group of colleagues in Boston.  For this one, I knew the wine I wanted us to taste and write about, which was the Cakebread Chardonnay 2012.   I was trying to do a tasting of this same wine in Mexico but unfortunately I couldn’t get it.  That all said I am now glad I have done this program with two different wines.


 The Cakebread Chardonnay is a favorite of mine so it was great to share and talk about it with others.   I had the groups focus on the some of the key elements of tasting wine:  appearance, aroma, fruit, taste plus some additional thoughtful creativity of:  celebrity, publication, car, season and shape. It seems everyone had a great time and the reviews are a testament to this wonderful wine from the short and precise to the very evocative. 

Team 1

Cakebread Chardonnay has a light golden-yellow color of an early sunrise over a beach on the Cape.  The Aroma is fruity, clean, contains hints of grapefruit as well as a significant air of alcoholic overtones.  The taste is quite forward and tart; there are no surprises in this delicious vintage.  Cakebread is associated with the feeling you get when you are driving a convertible through a summer retreat in mid-August.  It would pair extremely well with watching the sunset while listening to the Rolling Stones.


Cakebread Cellars, Napa valley 

Team 2

As I sat down to enjoy a slightly illicit, but most welcome, midday glass of Cakebread Chardonnay 2012, I found myself imagining I was on a beach somewhere on the northern California coast line, watching the waves roll in on the back of a chilly spring wind. Perhaps it was the pale gold color of the wine, which glistened up at me laughing which welcomed me into this sweet fantasy. The first taste hit my tongue in a ripple of crisp, warm notes – hinting at the sweet floral of dandelions and of the early fruits of summer. Although a bit too heavy for my personal taste, I was enchanted to find it finished smoothly with only a lingering buttery aftertaste.  It was like seeing an old friend after years apart, somehow familiar and new at the same time. My mind returned to that California beach. The music of Harry Connick Jr. is being played softly by another beachgoer, who greatly resembles John Krasinski, on his acoustic guitar. Usually such a performance would be wildly irritating, but it somehow works in this setting.  No pressure, no pretense. This wine, like my quiet California day dream, will linger in your memory long after the glass is empty.

Team 3

The wine is the color of afternoon sun setting over the crisp ocean air.  After a drive along the coast culminating with a glass of complex oakyness.  This wine emulates summer and long lazy days spent with toes in the sand and not a care in the world.


Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley

My review

The wine is a light straw color that reminds you of early spring corn fields.  The aroma is so clean and fresh, it is hard to believe it is a Chardonnay that can sometimes have a pungent aroma.  Once it settles in the glass it has intricate aromas of citrus, apricot and honeydew melon.  In fact, so many different fruits, green apples, pears, kiwi and more popped into my head after every sip it was hard to keep up.  There is only a hint of buttery’ness and even less of a hint of oak, which for me is perfect for this wonderfully light yet full of complexity wine.  As the wine opens up more, the palate experiences so much more delicious, complex tastes of fruit that ends in a delightful, long finish.  You can tell I love, love, love this wine!  Big fan!  Enjoy on a special occasion with friends or a night alone of catching up on your DVR recordings of Scandal followed by those of us who still love Revenge.