California Strong: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Karia Chardonnay

I have been asked time after time by customers and friends to please review and recommend a California Chardonnay. If you know me...well, then you are more than aware of my reticence in performing such a task (and the corresponding "face"), as I am known to worship at the altar of White Burgundy.  Freedom-fry Americans might shout "Treason!", but dang it, the best Chardonnay in the world is from France. There.
But with Southern grace, I took on this task with positivity and hope, as I know vinification and winemaking techniques have evolved from the days of oaky butterbombs. (Yes, they still exist, however.)
I knew if there was any hope of finding one I would like and not make said "face", I must seek out those wineries I love for their reds. Thus, I give you Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. I always enjoyed selling their wines as a possible alternative to the massive over-ripe fruit-bomb wines of their neighbors and fellow wineries in Napa. Structured, yet restrained, with a tannin backbone tailored to evolve, I liked that their wines needed time, and weren't always ready to be drunk the instant they hit the shelf.
Their Chardonnay, named Karia, meaning graceful in Greek, is just that. Made with the same care as their reds, this wine isn't just a another big Cali Chard, but instead shows elegance: 

Karia Chardonnay, 13.5%: Crisp, yet rounded and fragrant with notes of peach, apple, orange blossom, white flower, honey, toast, and spice. With good acidity, this doesn't lay on your palate like the tell-tale creaminess of some California offerings. (A portion of this wine is aged in stainless steel, so freshness & vibrancy remain.) 

Pair this lovely Chardonnay with farm-fresh goat cheese (there are wonderful creameries here in California to choose from!), honey glazed salmon with peach salsa, or even a down-home meal of chicken and cinnamon spiced apples. 
Posted on September 3, 2013 and filed under Wine.