Quintessential California Chardonnay – 2020 Wente Riva Ranch



“Quintessential” is a word that can get you in trouble

regarding wine. 


To say that any particular wine is a “prototypical representation”

of an entire varietal can be misleading…

especially when that varietal is the highly-adaptable Chardonnay. 


Depending on where it’s grown and

how the winemaker treats it,

Chardonnay’s flavors can vary widely. 


But when California Chardonnay is referenced,

there’s a generally-accepted description of

how it shapes up from a style and taste profile.

Basic RGB

It’s Wine Thursday!   

Every Thursday, we check out a good bottle that’s reasonably priced

and is easy to find, either at the store, online or both. 


This week, we’re looking at a classic representation

of classic California Chardonnay.



Where it’s from

The Wente family has been at this for a very long time. 

They’ve been bottling wine for the last 139 years,

making Wente the longest continuously-operated

family-owned winery in the country. 

Wente’s Riva Ranch Chardonnay is produced in the

Arroyo Seco region in the Salinas Valley in Monterey County.


What it is

The prototypical California Chardonnay

is full-bodied with oak, butter and tropical fruit flavors. 

Wente’s Riva Ranch has all of those characteristic elements

in subtle balance, i.e., nothing is out of proportion.

Butter and oak are definitely present

but neither overpower the pineapple and pear fruit notes. 

It has a creamy texture with a hint of caramel on the finish.


In the sub-$20 California Chardonnay category,

Riva Ranch is a standout…

no surprise since the Wente family

has been producing Chardonnay

for well over 100 years.


Where to buy it 

 Costco has the Wente Riva Ranch for $12.59. 

The price at Total Wine is $14.49.   It’s at BevMo for $14.99.

Fred Meyer and Target carry it for $15.99.

It’s on the shelf at Jewell Osco for $17.99. 

Safeway and Albertsons sell it for $18.99.   

You can order it from B-21 for $15.98  


The price at Marketview Liquor is $16.49  


Buy Wines Online has it for $16.95  


It’s $17.98 at Vine Republic  


and it goes for $18.99 at Napa Cabs