December 06, 2008

Drinking California Chardonnay

Tonight, I finally got around to drinking a bottle of 2005 HdV "de la Guerra" Chardonnay I purchased at the beginning of the year. This is the second label of Hyde de Villaine, the project of Hyde vineyard in the Carneros appellation of California and Aubert de Villaine in Burgundy. It usually goes for $30-35 but I found it on close out at a local Grocery Outlet for $13. Not a bad buy.

I would have tried it sooner but, as good as it looked on the shelf, I found myself a little scared to drink California chardonnay once it was in my cellar. Will it be an oaky mess, with no acidity and a flat flavor that tires the palate? Tonight, with baby lentils, roasted red pepper, and feta as a main dish, I thought it might be a nice match and went for it.

At first, it smelled like...well, California chardonnay. It seemed ripe and toasty and a little generic. But with time and the scents of cooking food in the kitchen, and later on the dinner table, the wine really came alive. There was Lovely pear fruit and toast on the aroma, then a round texture and pear, toast and saline flavors with nice length. There's acidity but not exactly what you might find in a French example. Still, it matched the lentils very nicely.

I'd recommend this highly if it was still available locally, and the price was still so low. Of course, that deal is long gone. But the next time someone -- possibly me -- tells you California chard is awful stuff, tell him or her to try this. I'm impressed.

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