California-bred and Burgundy-trained winemaker Dean De Korth
As far as under-$20 Chardonnays from California go — there is no other way to say it: in the hands of Dean De Korth, no one does it better. We are running out of ways to describe the over-delivering excellence of a wine like De Korth’s 2015 Bernardus Chardonnay Monterey County. The Wine Access clients who stack their cellars with Bernardus every time we offer it know that owner Ben Pon has a proven winner in California-bred and Burgundy-trained winemaker Dean De Korth. Since Bernardus Winery opened the first tasting room in Carmel Valley Village, Monterey residents have watched their region stake its claim as perhaps the finest spot in California for Burgundy varieties — all thanks to Bernardus. With this embarrassment of riches, what are the spoiled locals sipping at home and in Monterey’s seaside restaurants? Bernardus Chardonnay, which has been unassailable as the local favorite for years now.
It’s easy to get caught up in the venerable French names on De Korth’s stellar résumé. The Monterey native’s stints at legendary Burgundy wineries Comtes Lafon and Olivier Leflaive are enough to boost the credibility of any winemaker looking to make Chardonnay anywhere in the world. But one no longer needs to bring up the French to discuss top-quality wine on the Central Coast. You simply need to hit “Buy,” and discover the majestic brilliance of Bernardus for yourself.
The 2015 California harvest — another in a line of dream vintages — is the latest softball that mother nature has lobbed across De Korth’s plate. He has knocked it out of the park with a creamy and vibrant Monterey County Chardonnay whose scores rival those of the vineyard-designate Bernardus beauties that go for more than twice the price.