Is Chardonnay the new Pinot Noir? Well, it is in Vertical,
the literary sequel to Sideways
, Rex Pickett's novel that became a feature-film hit of the same name (and which I'm reading now). In Vertical
, it's seven years after Sideways
ends, and main character Miles Raymond is showing his mom around California and Oregon wineries. (I won't reveal any more because I hate a spoiler, too.) Her vice is Chardonnay. After reading all of the wine descriptions in this novel, I was craving a flight of chilled, crisp Chardonnay and so I indulged by tasting some bottles from Sonoma, California.
Here are four favorites from this wine region that are among Sonoma's best Chardonnays. Their prices are shockingly affordable, too -- many of California's best Chardonnays run $50-$60, and these bottles run $13-$24.
Chateau St. Jean 2009 Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California ($14)
A very delicate-style Chardonnay, the wine expresses bright lemon-y notes and some mango. Its finish has length and excellent mouthfeel.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California ($14)
Rich and creamy, the Chardonnay also has a nice crispness with green-apple and lime notes that are light in acidity but full in flavor, paired with vanilla mid-palate. Its silky mouthfeel contributes to a long finish.
Schug Carneros Estate 2008 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California ($24)
Tropical-fruit notes on this buttery-style Chardonnay are balanced and mildy acidic, and mingle with pear and peach before sliding into an elegant finish.
DeLoach Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California ($13)
Vibrant mouthfeel and a floral undercurrent are preceded by a nose of crushed rose petals and apples. Its Asian-pear notes are not overly acidic, and there's a touch of effervesence throughout before a finish that's elegant and laced with tropical-fruit notes.
Click here for the best Napa Chardonnays.