- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2003, $18

One of California’s more reliable chardonnays, Beringer’s Napa rendition has shifted subtly in style in 2003, becoming more focused and nuanced, with autumn fruit and citrus flavors coming to the fore in place of riper tropical ones. The result: An already quite good wine has become even better.

Chardonnay is the chameleon of classic white wine grapes. Depending on where it is grown and how it is handled in the winery, it can yield wines with widely different styles. While rich, fleshy ones have been in vogue in America for a while now, tastes may be beginning to change. More exciting chardonnays are being made in a leaner but equally expressive style, and this one serves as a prime example.

When chardonnay’s fruit tastes autumnal (apples and pears) rather than tropical (pineapples and bananas), the wine is able to express secondary subtleties as well — vanilla notes from wood aging, to be sure, but also hints of spice and stony minerals. It also becomes more food friendly, as it doesn’t need to be paired with rich cream or butter sauces.

Drink Beringer’s 2003 Napa chardonnay over the next year with all sorts of poultry, seafood and even light pork dishes. It’s delicious.

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