By Natalie MacLean
Spring into these great wines to shake off your winter blues. Pair them with spring favourite foods.
Far Niente Chardonnay 2014, Napa Valley, California, USA. (LCBO #539130, $99.95): Lovely balance in this classic Californian Chardonnay, with green apple and toasted almond aromas. Nice acidity and a mouth-filling richness on the mid-palate. Pair with roast turkey. Chardonnay food pairings: Steamed mussels, pan-fried trout. Alcohol: 14%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2016–2021. Score: 93/100.
Paul Hobbs Chardonnay 2014, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA. (LCBO #119073, $64.95): Complex and satisfying Californian Chardonnay, with full-bodied richness and weight with a velvet texture. Toasty oak, yet it’s integrated beautifully with the green apple and peach aromas. A chardonnay lover’s Chardonnay. Complex with a long finish. Pair with roast chicken. Chardonnay food pairings: Lemonherbed chicken, cheese, poultry. Alcohol: 14.3%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2016–2022. Score: 93/100.
Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc 2014, Napa Valley, California, USA. (LCBO #221887, $22.95): Lemon smoke seduction on the nose. Crisp and vibrant on the palate. Long finish. Medium-bodied. Perfect for halibut in a beure blanc sauce. Fumé Blanc food pairings: Chicken salad, seafood, barbecued lobster. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2014–2018. Score: 91/100.
Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2014, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA. (LCBO #146951, $24.95): A full-bodied and luscious Californian Chardonnay with attractive aromas of toasted almond, butterscotch and golden apple. Folie à Deux translates to “a passion shared by two.” The Chardonnay grapes are sourced from Sonoma’s coveted Russian River Valley, where the Pacific Ocean fog moderates vineyard temperatures. Chardonnay food pairings: Pan-fried cod, pork tenderloin, egg dishes. Alcohol: 13.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2016–2019. Score: 91/100.
Kim Crawford Small Parcels Favourite Homestead Pinot Gris 2014, Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand. (LCBO #415463, $24.95): A fresh, crisp New Zealand Pinot Gris from a white-wine master. Aromas of white and green melon, lemon zest and lime lift. Pair with fresh shellfish. Pinot Gris food pairings: Lobster in butter sauce, seafood, pasta with cream sauce. Alcohol: 13%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2014–2018. Score: 91/100.
La Crema Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma Coast, California, USA. (LCBO #962886, $29.95): Sonoma Coast vineyards enjoy a long, cool growing season due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, and fogs and winds that blow inland. This is perfect for slowly ripening grapes to develop complex flavours and nuances without lots of sugar that translates to heavy alcohol. This is a classic Californian Chardonnay with toast, oak and green apple on the nose. Full-bodied, and generously layered. Generous flavours of pear and peach on the palate, with a long, dry finish and a hint of wild white flowers in a spring rain. Perfect for roast chicken or mild curries. Chardonnay food pairings: Pasta, hodge podge, lobster with mayonnaise, roasted chicken. Alcohol: 13.9%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2014–2019. Score: 90/100.
Dirty Laundry Vineyards Not So Naughty Chardonnay 2014, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia VQA, Canada. (LCBO #353144, $19.95): This fresh, crisp BC white wine made from Chardonnay grapes is unoaked. It reminds me more of fresh linen on a spring day than Dirty Laundry, with aromas of lime and lemon zest. Pair with crossing off the last item on your chores list and fresh seafood. Chardonnay food pairings: Stuffed chicken, ravioli served in an alfredo sauce. Alcohol: 13.9%. Sweetness: Dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2016–2019. Score: 90/100.
Viña Cobos Felino Chardonnay 2015, Mendoza, Argentina. (LCBO #119099, $19.95): Great balance and elegance in this Argentine Chardonnay, with pleasant green apple and a toasted almond finish. Full-bodied and luscious. Pair with crab cakes. This winery is co-owned by the esteemed California producer Paul Hobbs, Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud. Grapes are grown in the Uco Valley and Luján de Cuyo appellation of the Mendoza wine region. Golden-yellow highlights in the glass. Just 20% of the fermenting juice gets oak contact. Chardonnay food pairings: Crab cakes with lemon sauce, seafood. Alcohol: 14.5%. Sweetness: Extra dry. 750 mL. Drink: 2016–2019. Score: 92/100.
Natalie MacLean is the editor of Ontario’s largest wine review web site and mobile apps at nataliemaclean.com.