Collier Creek 2016 Front Coach Chardonnay is, by all accounts, a first class
ticket for the price of coach. With a retail price of $9.99, you might assume that massive amounts of this wine are being produced but winemaker Susana Rodriguez Vasquez made just 5,000 cases.
This stand-alone brand resides under the umbrella of Lodi’s Peltier Winery and Vineyards which has a solid track record of over delivering in quality for value and this year’s Best Value Wine is no exception. According to Rodriguez Vasquez, Front Coach Chardonnay is deeply lemon-hued and very aromatic with pear, peach and pineapple aromas that indicate a riper style. She describes the wine as full-bodied with bright fruit flavors, a round mouthfeel and a crisp green apple and citrus finish. “This is a refreshing, fruit forward style that’s stainless steel fermented and because it hasn’t undergone malolactic fermentation it doesn’t have any buttery flavors,” she said.
In crafting Front Coach Chardonnay, Rodriguez Vasquez relies entirely on fruit quality and purity because she’s not using oak or manipulating the wine to mask or enhance flavors. She sources Chardonnay from the winery’s Lewis Ranch, an Elk Grove estate that lies in the northern-most part of Lodi’s Alta Mesa sub AVA. The site benefits from cooling delta winds that blow from the nearby Sacramento River creating what is deemed a perfect micro climate for growing wine.
Vineyard manager and proprietor, Rodney Schatz farms the estate according to the Lodi Rules for sustainable wine growing, a certification program that relies on no less than 120 standards and is being adopted by wine growing regions around the world. Rodriguez Vasquez believes the quality of the Collier Creek wines is “a clear reflection of a healthy vineyard and these agriculture practices.” While there’s no question that meticulous farming costs more, Peltier Winery is able to machine harvest the vineyard which helps keep costs down for consumers.
Working with such high quality fruit also means less intervention in the winery for Rodriguez Vasquez. Collier Creek Wine Co. was introduced in 2016 to honor the Lodi Appellation by third generation wine growers Rodney and Gayla Schatz. The brand includes five varietals: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The Schatz family farms over 1200 acres in Lodi and they made the leap from grower to vintner when they bottled their first wines in 2005.
Bolivian-born Rodriguez Vasquez spent the previous ten years working with E & J Gallo and Constellation Brands working with fruit from all over California and New Zealand before joining the Peltier team as winemaker in 2016. She’s approaching her third harvest with the winery and couldn’t be happier with the reception the value brand is receiving, “We are very excited with the Collier Creek product line, and we are happy to see it grow so rapidly.” Collier Creek Front Coach Chardonnay is available at retailers across the United States.