California Chardonnay has been the butt of vinous jokes since the Reagan administration. But these days, more Cali winemakers are opting for balance over power, yielding delicious, full-bodied whites.
Château St. Jean Chardonnay 2011, $18.95
Founded in 1973, this winery is 90 minutes north of San Francisco in the Sonoma Valley. Pair with chicken curry.
Ponce notes: “The ripe fruit gives this big white a hint of sweetness, which helps it stand up to spicy fare. A healthy dose of acidity keeps everything in check.”
Edna Valley Paragon Chardonnay 2011, $19.95
This recent Vintages release is made in San Luis Obispo, which is halfway between San Fran and L.A. Open with mac and cheese.
Ponce notes: “The nose is pure Golden State, revealing aromas of pear, pineapple, and butterscotch. On the palate, it’s smooth and creamy, with well-integrated oak and a zesty finish.”
Artesa Chardonnay 2011, $24.95
Located in Carneros, this winery is owned by the Raventós family, a big Cava producer in Spain. Try this Vintages bottle with baked salmon.
Ponce notes: “Rather than clubbing you over the head, this gorgeous Chard whispers sweet nothings in your ear. Fresh, balanced, and elegant, it’s a delight to drink.”