Wine of the Week: Alma Rosa Chardonnay El Jabali Vineyard

Wine: Alma Rosa Chardonnay El Jabali Vineyard

Grape: Chardonnay

Region: Santa Rita Hills, Calif.

Vintage: 2006

Price: $4.99

Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors

In the glass: Alma Rosa Chardonnay is a firm golden lemon-yellow color with a clean, clear bright core going out into a fine faint yellow rim definition with medium viscosity.

On the nose: This delicious chardonnay has warm bread, cooked apples, apple cider, apple juice, crushed stone fruit, white currants and slight hints of buttery oak, vanilla extract and just touches of warm chalky minerality.

On the palate: It is a rounded and utterly pleasant fruit-driven chardonnay with lovely applesauce, white currant and white cranberry juice, bright forward acidity that makes for the lovely balance in the wine right through the midpalate, where that acidity dances nicely on the palate with the white fruit, into a solid concentrated finish that lingers with hints of oak, lemon zest and crushed Brazil nuts. This is not an overoaked wine, and it tastes like a good expensive chardonnay should with great balance.

Odds and ends: Thekla and Richard Sanford are some of the most famous sustainable vineyard farmers in California and their eponymous wines are highly sought after, both for chardonnay and pinot noir. They have nailed the Burgundian style of winemaking, especially in what are considered some of the finest American Viticultural Areas, or the equivalent of the French Appellation system. In the Santa Rita Hills AVA, this Alma Rosa Chardonnay comes from the famed El Jabali Vineyard and has now had some years to age. It is fully mature and ready to drink. The good news is that this is a $30 chardonnay from one of the top vintages and the best AVA’s for chardonnay, for the ridiculous price of only $4.99! Try it with a great fish dish, such as huachinango oaxacena (you’ll have to look that up!), but it’s oven roasted sea bass with tomatoes, onions and green olives. Drink it through 2014 and serve slightly chilled to about 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at

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