Cough, Sniffle, Sneeze: Thanks, Santa

We have a lot to be thankful for at this time of year, but I’m just glad to have my taste buds back.

I’ve had a case of the holiday flu, which for the last week or so has pretty much killed my sense of taste and smell.

With that experience behind me, I’m ready to start the new year with a new-found appreciation for the pleasures to be found in Wine Country 2012.

New Look at an Old Favorite

It’s been popular — and easy — to bash California Chardonnay over the years, but I’d like to reverse direction and focus on finding the best this varietal has to offer in the Golden State.

California Chardonnay

I’m not going to forget red wine, but I am going to make a special effort to seek out more Chardonnay wines to sample in the months ahead.

Chardonnay can be flinty and dry as a bone. It can be sweet and fleshy. It can be kissed lightly (or overwhelmed) by oak from barrel aging.  Tastes run from crispy apple to honeyed tropical fruits with a wide range of other nuances

All wine takes a taste cue from the soils and climates in which the grapes are grown. Chardonnay is no different. In fact, I believe it can show more about its background than many other grapes.

In France, you find world-class Chardonnay in the Burgundy and Champagne regions. The unique soils, variable weather and vineyard practices combine to produce  wines that reflect the essence of place.

California Style

In California, Chardonnay styles are all over the board.

It’s the most widely planted grape in the state with more than 95,000 acres in vines. Chardonnay sales accounted for 28 percent of all California tables wines sold in 2010.

Different soils, sub-climates and growing conditions can produce a wide range of flavors and taste characteristics in both still and sparkling wines.

I’ll be looking for both regional influences and wine making styles to compare and contrast the choices we have as wine consumers looking for the next glass of California Chardonnay.

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