A Zinful Weekend for Splurges

1 Mar

2010 Chalone Estate ChardonnayLast year I attended a zinfandel tasting with some friends. It was a great opportunity to try some great zins, people watch, and discover that a million little sips add up to a poor start to the morning. When we arrived, we had to decide where we were going first, while our palates were unstained and uncompromised. And, probably more importantly, before we got a heavy buzz on. So, for my money these are two sure fire producers with several top-flight zin blends: Ridge and Ravenswood. Ridge was closest and we moved in on what was perhaps the best tasting of the night – Ridge Geyserville and Ridge Lytton Springs. The shelves are receiving 2010 Ridge Lytton Springs (#982413 $48.95) this week. I know its expensive and there are tones of worthy zinfandels that don’t cost half as much (am I talking you in to this purchase, or out of it?) but there has to be a night this summer where you will want to match a nice barbecued steak with a full-bodied special wine. No? OK, just pick this up so that you can tell friends, “Once in a while, I splurge.” This has the full aroma of zinfandel that is its distinctive trademark. Full-bodied, jammy and fun. Decant this one for a couple hours, or cellar for a few years.

Few California producers are synonymous with a grape variety to the extent that Chalone is with chardonnay. If you walk into a wine shop in the US and ask for a solid, classic chardonnay, many consultants will hand you a Chalone. This week, there’s the 2010 Chalone Estate Chardonnay (#080226 $29.95). Like all Chalone chardonnay, this one is ‘elegant’ seeming to come from another cool-climate region – Burgundy. It’s not buttery but doesn’t have any hard edges either – balanced. Lovely stuff. Did I say it was the perfect food chardonnay? Chicken with a nice herby cream sauce – as in chicken breasts a la herby cream sauce.

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