Sep. 28, 2012 at 4:39 PM ET
When it comes to chardonnay, I am hard to please. Everything has to be aligned – balance and subtlety, great fruit, seamless integration of oak, plus a liveliness that makes the wine dance across the palate and, with each sip, invites me back for another.
I found this combination the other night with Robert Mondavi’s 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay, a superb example of the elegant style I prefer in California chards (I will leave those buttery, heavily oaked, high-alcohol wines for others). Mondavi’s wine has relatively restrained alcohol of 13.5 percent and refreshing acidity sometimes lacking in California chardonnays.
The fruit is an appealing combination of pear and white peach with subtle notes of orange rind, green pepper and butterscotch followed by a creamy finish. While most of the fruit was sourced from various regions within Napa, part of it came from Sonoma, and three percent of the blend is sauvignon blanc.
And there’s another impressive thing about this wine; the suggested price is $20, which is a bargain for a Napa chardonnay of this quality and complexity, and you’ll probably find it for a bit less at some retailers. Unlike some bigger chardonnays, this is an excellent food wine, and we enjoyed it with a loin of pork roasted with a good deal of garlic and ginger. Try it as well with grilled chicken and salmon.
Mondavi, of course, is one of the best-known wine names in California, and the world, for that matter. The late Robert Mondavi started the winery in 1965 and it was sold to Constellation Brands, the wine and spirits behemoth, eight years ago. While I am not a fan of all of Mondavi’s wines, this one is a real winner – both in style and price.
Want more suggestions? On Vint-ed, I review and exciting and affordable wine from Oregon, the 2010 Rainstorm Pinot Noir.
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