Good Chards available in a variety of styles

April 2, 2012

For all my Chard Pards,  Patz and Hall Dutton Ranch is produced from some of the oldest plantings of  Cali heritage clones in Sonoma. Since most are dry farmed, the vines struggle, causing small  berries from lack of water, producing  concentrated flavor and texture. The 2008 Dutton Ranch Russian River Chardonnay is a lovely golden color with beautiful aromas of lemon curd,  passion fruit, hints of buttered toast, honey and a touch of caramel. A rich palate, loaded with smooth lemon meringue and pineapple flavors, rides an acid, mineral and oaken frame. It finishes dry and clean, with a nice fruit finish providing the appearance of sweetness. Tanzer 91, Parker 90, McD 92, if you can buy a case under $385. Try to find the 2006 to compare; it was remarkable. For those who prefer the old hazelnut-flavored style, check out the 2007. Be careful, though, about buying the half bottles. They are reaching the end of their drinking window.

Rombauer Chardonnay 2009 is less expensive. Reviewed a few months ago, it was findable under $325/case or $30/bottle. The Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay 2010 is pale golden yellow. It opens to peach, melon and citrus aromas balanced by smidgens of honeysuckle and vanilla. On the palate, pear, peach and melon flavors are supported by a lively acidity and a tad of vanilla-scented oak. Pleasing, smooth, buttery finish of melon and citrus fruit; 90 points.

For years I’ve written fairly glowing reviews of Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres for those who are fans of a more austere, Chablis-like Chardonnay. I don’t know what has changed recently, but at $30-plus you would be far better served to buy the real thing. Chablis Forets Moreau-Naudets Premier Cru 2008, 93 points for example, is easily bought for under $25/bottle or $300/case and your wine guy can eat too.

A pale, green-tinged golden color, it opens to a complex bouquet of citrus  plus mineral reduction. Opens on the palate to crushed stone and saline flavors with generous amounts of dry Chardonnay fruit. The finish is sharply dry and very long. A great palate cleanser for buttery fish, cream-sauced dishes or fettuccine alfredo and Pecorino Romano.

This week’s mail brought a request to which I was a bit hesitant to respond. I don’t want to lose any of my longtime pals, who may decide to strike out on their own.  Cindi asked,”Who do you read to find wine information?”

Most can tell by the columns that I read Wine Advocate, Enthusiast and Spectator plus Uncorked (who could pass on a mag with articles titled Sedimental Journeys, and Sippin' and Sniffin' with Fido, wine tips from a true connoisseur, your mutt), By the Grape and Bordeaux.

Everyone reads Parker to learn about overpriced wines, and Cali lovers must read Stephen Tanzer. Habitués may remember I enjoy Anthony Galloni,  Jancis Robinson and Greg Dal Piaz of Snooth. However, only the truly perceptive will recognize the lines stolen from Wine Dude, Stay Rad (keeps me in tune with the kiddies), Vinosseur or Dunnock’s Rhone Report, Sommelier and Vinopedia.

If you could name Guitar Aficionado’s winter edition, which I initially accessed to read about Les Claypool, one of my son Bassman Dan’s heroes, only to find it was subtitled the Wine Issue, you should apply to one of those game shows which question your ability to retain arcane bits of info. Hope that helps, Cindi. Make sure your reading area is well lit. One hundred watts and a 1.5L usually do it for me.

On a sad note, Allan Lynch passed this week. You may have known Allan as the proprietor of Bay Road Package Store and The Captain's Table restaurant. I knew him as a friend. I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathy to Doris, Pansy, all of Allan’s children, grandchildren and his extended family as well. Rest in peace, Allan. It was a fine experience knowing you.

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