Wine: Sterling Vineyards Vintners Collection Chardonnay
Grapes: Chardonnay (98 percent), viognier (2 percent)
Region: Napa Valley, Calif.
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquor
In the glass: This well-made Sterling Vintners Chardonnay is a pale citrine yellow with crisp clarity going out into a glass-clear to pale lemon-colored rim with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: It has immediate upfront crushed white fruits, like pear juice, Braeburn apples; soft peach-infused green tea, pineapple slices, vanilla custard, chalky minerals and underlying hint of lemon rind.
On the palate: The wine reveals a flavorful balance between pears, apples and citrus on the fruit side and liquid minerals on the acidity side with lovely smoothness and a light- to medium-bodied structure that delivers a nicely balanced experience that is more commonly found in chardonnays that cost several times more. It follows through with a nice subtle finish and shows that overachieving winemaking is not dead.
Odds and ends: Now that it’s getting serious with the summer heat, we need to drink good, fresh and steely wines that “speak” to our palates as well as our wallets. I found just such a wine in the unlikeliest of places, namely among a group of California chardonnays lined up and tasted blind. It is how I find wines that are overachievers in stature from both a nose and taste perspective and how it is fairest to the consumers. If I like the wine, there’s a huge chance you will, too. California chardonnays tend to be a little “flabby” in most cases, so when I taste something that’s fresh and forward such as this Sterling Vintners Chardonnay, I get excited. Furthermore, as I was researching what I tasted, I looked at the Sterling website and found this exact wine at $14, but we can get it here for $6 and that makes it an outstanding value. Sterling Vineyards is a huge winery operation with massive public outreach, winery tours and more and it is actually a great pleasure to visit them in the heart of Napa Valley. I like the clean and approachable style of this nice summer wine and highly recommend it for barbecues, aperitifs and parties. Chill it to about 52 degrees and drink it this summer through next.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.