Now hereâ€™s chardonnay intriguing enough to appeal even to diehard red wine lovers like me.
It’s the mighty Varner Santa Cruz Mountains, Spring Ridge Vineyard – Home Block – Chardonnay 2006. Yes it is a long name for a wine, but since winemakers Bob and Jim Varner also create several other very tasty chardonnays, the designation requires lots of specifics. Highly acclaimed by all the usual suspects â€” Robert Parker is a huge fan â€” this wine will take you for a better quality spin than you’re probably used to.
This very lightly oaked 14.3% creation is made from Portola Valley grapes. Actually, itâ€™s only on the second day that the oak peeks through the firm mineral center.
Fraught with depth and tightly coiled, the Home Block chard is a Kundalini of a wine, opening into cascades of kumquat, winter apricot and white pepper. The center is pure mineral – as if the flavor of rain persisted in five or six dimensions. The initial opening contains gardenia, the finish a rumor of salt.
Varner’s sumptuous chardonnay shows that sometimes you really do get what you pay for â€” this super-structured wine runs almost $40, which makes it outside my own daily sippinâ€™ comfort zone.
But for those special evenings, you could do a whole lot worse. And you probably have.
I got mine at Vinocruz.