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As you reach for your favorite Dark Horse Chardonnay on the shelf, you spy a horse of a slightly different color—Dark Horse Buttery Chardonnay. Wait. Two Chardonnays from Dark Horse? What’s the deal?

Glad you asked. In fact, let’s do a Q&A to help you choose the right Chardonnay to exceed your expectations, whatever the occasion.

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Q: Dark Horse Chardonnay is already so popular and awarded, why make another Chardonnay?

A: Getting the first pick of grapes from over 400 growers gives us endless directions to take the flavor profile of our wines. Chardonnay, in particular, is also such a malleable and versatile grape, we just had to let our winemaker, Beth Liston, express herself. But mostly, we did it because sometimes you need to dial up the buttery notes.

Q: What’s the difference between the two styles?

A: While they both are exceptional and drink like much more expensive Chardonnays, they provide quite different tasting experiences.

Our fan-favorite Dark Horse Chardonnay is a crisp classic. Welcoming pineapple aromas introduce distinctive notes of ripe tree stone and tropical fruit, complemented by toasted oak flavors.

Our Buttery Chardonnay is a bolder, more full-bodied varietal. Notes of vanilla, brown spice, and buttery oak take center stage and play beautifully off the underlying classic fruit flavors.

Q: How do you do it?

We could tell you, but then…well, okay, we’ll tell you.

For our classic Chardonnay, winemaker Beth Liston selects the finest grapes harvested at optimum ripeness from premier California vineyards. She then chooses aromatic yeast to intensify the natural bouquet and enhance the layered fruit characteristics during fermentation.

For our Buttery Chardonnay, Beth handpicks grapes that have held their acidity especially well. She then chooses the right aromatic yeast to intensify the expression of the fruit while artfully orchestrating malolactic fermentation on oak in stainless-steel tanks. Finally, she ages it for 8+ months on lees to achieve the rich and creamy mouth weight.

Q: How am I supposed to choose between the two?

A: Because both have a role to play, now you can pair Chardonnay perfectly with just about anything.

Here are a few crowd-pleasing pairing suggestions for our classic Dark Horse Chardonnay:

Light and bright appetizers like grilled shrimp skewers, crab cakes, or roasted spring vegetables with garlic, lemon, and dill

Peach chicken salad

Chanterelle mushroom risotto

Here are some winning pairing suggestions for our Dark Horse Buttery Chardonnay:

Sharp cheeses such as Pecorino Toscano, English cheddar, Comté, and blue cheese

Seafood with a butter sauce

Truffle popcorn and a romantic comedy

Q: What makes California grapes so special for Chardonnay?

A: On top of the fact that Chardonnay is such a versatile grape that’s especially responsive to different winemaking techniques, California boasts incredibly diverse growing regions and microclimates, giving us free rein to choose the right grapes from the right places to achieve our desired flavor profiles.

Q: How do you ensure every bottle will overdeliver on value?

A: Besides the first pick of fruit, world-class winemaking techniques, and a winning winemaker, we taste our wines over 100 times from vine to bottle to ensure every sip exceeds expectations.

Whichever you choose, both of our Chardonnays are exquisite wines you won’t believe are affordable enough for a weeknight dinner at home.