How often do you open a wine and get just what you’re hoping for? For me, this was one of those times when I got what I had hoped for in a Sonoma chardonnay: a wine that has some fruitiness and plenty of minerality, along with a backbone of structure. And just enough oak-induced vanilla to please but not overwhelm, because the wine’s fermentation and ageing were carefully coordinated in stainless steel and oak barrels.

The wine is lemony with a hint of tropical fruit in the aroma — even a hint of minerality, which intensifies on the palate. The buttery oak is balanced by smoky flintiness in the flavor, and the mouthfeel is slightly round due to five weeks on the lees with battonage. The finish is fairly long, with fruit smoothing into minerality. A lively streak of acidity running throughout, that resolves into lime at the very end.

Holds its own with food, especially creamy, mild seafood like a very delicate lobster mac-and-cheese, where the emphasis is on the lobster not the cheese. If you love vanilla notes in chardonnay, serve this with salty foods; otherwise stay away from a lot of salt when pairing foods with this wine.

SUSTAINABILITY: Jordan has been a pioneer in sustainable vineyards since the 1990s, with fish-friendly and bee-friendly certification as well. The winery’s electricity use is also carbon-neutral.

WHO: Jordan Winery

WHAT: 100% chardonnay

WHERE: Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California

HOW MUCH: $35 (media sample)

About The Author

Becky Sue Epstein

An experienced writer, editor, broadcaster, and consultant in the fields of wine, spirits, food, and travel, Becky Sue's work has appeared in many national and international publications including Intermezzo Magazine, Fine Wine & Liquor, Art & Antiques, Luxury Golf & Travel, Food + Wine, www.wine-pages.com and Wine Spectator. She began her career as a restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times while working in film and television. Epstein is also the author of several books on wine, spirits, and food, including Champagne: A Global History; Brandy: A Global History, and Strong, Sweet and Dry: A Guide to Vermouth, Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Marsala.

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