- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chalone Vineyard, Chardonnay, Monterey County, 2007, $12

Here’s a classy California chardonnay at a very fair price, a good choice for sipping by the pool, at a picnic or when watching the fireworks this holiday weekend.

It displays the full fruit flavors that have made this particular grape variety so popular, without verging on excessive sweetness (as too many wines do these days). Because it tastes harmonious, the first sip leaves you eager for the second.

Chardonnay’s unmatched popularity among white-wine drinkers stems from many things, but the most important probably is that the wines, when well-crafted, offer tremendous sensual pleasure. They not only smell and taste rich, but they also feel luxurious on the palate. Unlike some more acidic white wines, and unlike many other drinks, there is nothing shrill or aggressive about them.

Some vintners do push chardonnay’s sensual side to excess, producing wines that taste and feel sappy, so the winemakers at Chalone deserve kudos for holding it in appropriate check here. The most impressive thing about this wine is its fine balance, with no element overshadowing the others. Delicious on its own, it also will pair nicely with many seafood and poultry dishes as well as with all sorts of summer salads. It’s a great choice for the Fourth.

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