In a tasting of dozens of Napa Valley chardonnay wines under $40, this wine stood out. It was crisp and clean with vibrant peach and lemon citrus, and a touch of wet stones or mineral character. Chablis-style, some may call it, after the northern Burgundy region producing laser-focused chardonnays not defined by oak-related flavors.
This wine is a balancing act. Some of the fruit was picked early, to retain a zesty and mineral character, while the later-picked bunches add riper flavors to the final chardonnay. Only some of the wine went through malolactic fermentation, so the wine has a rich character, but still retains zesty acidity. Some of the wine is stirred on its lees during aging in older oak barrels, which adds creaminess to the final texture, but in good balance. Not overdoing all of these techniques gives us a wine perfect for shellfish, grilled seafood, lemon chicken, and just about a hundred or two hundred other dishes.
Catherine Bugue is the Star’s tasting panel writer. Her weekly pursuit of a good glass of wine provides a nice supply of choices for the Wine of the Week column. If you’d like to submit a Napa Valley wine for this column, please send it to the Napa Valley Wine Academy, 2501 Oak St., Napa, CA 94559. There’s no guarantee your wine will be chosen to be featured, but all wines will be evaluated and considered.