Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
After an informal survey of the mothers of five or six friends of mine, I have determined that mothers, as a rule, are OK with Chardonnay. Some people might question the scientific legitimacy of this analysis on the grounds that the statistical sample was ridiculously small, and they’d be right. But nevertheless, if you’re going to buy your mother a bottle of wine for Mother’s Day, Chardonnay - the most popular grape in America, by the way - is likely to be a good choice.
Moreover, since the variety has been cultivated for nearly 700 years, ever since the Cistercian monks in Burgundy figured out what to do with it, giving her a bottle will allow you to say something endearing like, “Mother, I am giving you this wonderful bottle of Chardonnay because it is from a grape variety even older than you.” She'll be thrilled. Trust me.
2010 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay ($12)
California’s Wente was one of the first, if not the first, US winery to plant a substantial amount of Chardonnay. That was 100 years ago, in 1912, and what’s referred to as the “Wente clone” of the variety now accounts for about 75 percent of the Chardonnay grown in the state. The winery’s Morning Fog bottling, its most affordable Chardonnay, has a crisp, green apple–y character.
2010 Cameron Hughes Lot 320 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay ($12)
This Chardonnay is more in the traditional California style than the Wente, above - rich and fairly luscious, with tropical notes like pineapple. But it isn’t an overblown butter bomb, and has plenty of fresh acidity to keep its flavors lively.
2010 Novellum Chardonnay ($13)
Surprisingly affordable given how good it is, this creamy, spicy Chardonnay from the south of France is aged mostly in stainless steel rather than oak barrels, which keeps it impressively refreshing despite its substantial richness.
2010 William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux ($22)
Chablis is the region—the northernmost part of Burgundy, in France - and Chardonnay is the only grape allowed in Chablis. (Many European wines are labeled by region, rather than grape variety.) This is classically Chablisienne, to get sort of Gallic about it: floral and citrusy, with a distinctive stony-chalky note.
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I love Cline Cellars out in California! Great stuff.
Don't forget about the new trend in Chardonnay Barrel aged beers!
Melange a Trois – http://ruinationpress.com/2010/melange-a-trois-nebraska-brewing-does-it-again/
Apricot au Poivre Saison – http://theviceblog.com/2011/03/29/nebraska-reserve-series-apricot-au-poivre-saison-aged-in-chardonnay-barrels
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