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Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 | 7 comments

Kendall Jackson Vitner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2011

This wine holds a very special place in my heart. This is where my love affair with wine really begins, so I need to share a little background story first. When I was a senior in college, a group of friends and I started going out to dinner every Wednesday at a restaurant here (The Filling Station) that had half price wine bottles on Wednesday. I’m not sure how we ended up picking Kendall Jackson Chardonnay as our go-to wine, but by the time second semester rolled around we could walk into the restaurant and there would be a table set for six with 2 bottles chilling. The wait staff referred to us as the KJ girls and then a friend back on campus referred to us one night as “the winos” – a name that has stuck for more than a decade. These dinners are some of my happiest memories of my final year of school and the place where a friendship was cemented that would last through all the tumultuous changes of our 20’s –  graduation, many relocations, new jobs, boyfriends, bad dates, health scares, marriages and babies. More than a decade later, the winos are still going strong. We talk daily over email (yes, daily!) even if it’s just a quick check in with one another. We manage to pull off at least two to three trips per year to get together – sometimes “winocations” to far off destinations like Sonoma (of course) but more often, just landing at one another’s house to see new babies, catch up on life and of course, drink a lot of wine. This wine started something magical, and so it’s with a completely biased opinion, I decided to review it.

None of us are partial to Chardonnay anymore and I bet it’s been years since any of us have had Kendall Jackson. This bottle was in the fridge on a recent trip to the beach with my parents and it turned out my Dad had picked it out, remembering my preference from years ago.  I was actually excited to try it again, both for nostalgia sake and “research” sake.

I was surprised at how much I liked it. It has been years since I picked up a bottle of Chardonnay, especially one that has been aged in oak. I had migrated away from that variety so much and had convinced myself I didn’t like Chards anymore. There definitely is a different taste and mouthfeel to a Chard than any other white wine. This one, the Kendall, is almost oily on the tongue and almost has a spicy bite to it. The oak taste is definitely prevalent in this wine and there’s a little hint of vanilla.

It’s probably not a white I’d recommend to newbie wine drinkers nor is it a great party wine either…although it does make a great dinner party wine, depending on what you are serving.

It’s much heavier than most white wines I have grown accustomed to drinking, and it almost demands to be paired with a meal – a plate of pasta with cream sauce or a firmer fish, like salmon or tuna steak. I ended up having it with shrimp and risotto and it was a match made in heaven. It was a huge surprise to me how much I liked a Chard, after years of passing them over, and it’s made me curious to investigate some others. You know, all for the sake of research.

Tasting Notes:

Wine Name: Kendall Jackson Vitner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2011

Grape: White, Chardonnay

Origin: California

Price: $12.99, Harris Teeter

General impressions: spicy, oily, a heavy white, oaky, vanilla

Recommendations: pair with pasta or fish, dinner party wine, winter white, a white for red drinkers

Would you buy again? Yes, although there’s other Chards I’m curious to try now too!


  1. This has inspired me – I definitely need to pick it up again – you know, for old time’s sake 🙂

    • Do it!

    • The nostalgia definitely influenced my review. 🙂

  2. With a story like that, who wouldn’t want to give this one a try?!?

  3. I had this last Christmas as a work gift. I was surprised by how much I liked it. I tend to think I don’t like oak aged chard’s, but I actually do! I love a middle ground between stainless steel tasting chards but with a buttery finish. I think they are kind of hard to come by.

    I loved the backbone story to this too. How fun that you and your girlfriends would get together every Wednesday for dinner.

    • I agree! Chards seem to be the white of voice for Sonoma though so if you come across some good ones in your neck of the wood, pass along any recommendations!

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