Ramey Cellars Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2011

David Ramey, the winemaker for Ramey Chardonnay is one of the preeminent Chardonnay producers in California. Lots of great blind wine tasters mistake this one for French white Burgundy in his blind tasting of the wine, while at the same time finding a sumptuousness to the fruit that’s more California. That sums it up about this wine–California decadence, Burgundian depth and expression. You’ll get a lot of exotic tropical fruit but with the zing of acidity–fresh golden pineapple comes to mind. What’s great about these wines is that they get better with age if you have the discipline to cellar them.  Ten years adds alluring notes of toffee and marzipan. Gorgeous.

Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuisse (poo-YEE fwee-SAY), France

Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuisse has scents of fresh almonds, crisp apples and a hint of citrus, plus a creamy roundness and long finish that sets this P-F apart from the pack.  Pair with caper-butter trout.

Domaine Laroche Chablis St. Martin, Burgundy, France

With the Domaine Laroche Chablis honeysuckle and Fuji apple notes leap from the glass and dance softly on the palate and finish.  The crisp acidity and makes this wine great for fried chicken.

Cave de Lugny Macon-Lugny ‘Les Charmes’

Cave de Lugny Macon-Lugny ‘Les Charmes’ from Burgundy – why pay more?  This elegant chamomile-tea-and-apples Burgundy and a plate of oysters or an herbed omelet is an instant escape to Paris, for cheap!

Chartron & Trebuchet Rully La Chaume, Burgundy, France

Chartron & Trebuchet Rully La Chaume – The kumquat-citrus flavor. rosehips, and minerality of this wine are softened by a juicy-apple palate that keeps you sipping. Pair with shallot-steamed mussels.

Trefethen Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California

Trefethen’s style is unwavering:  subtle, elegant, gorgeously balanced.  Notes of fresh hay, sweet spice, apple compote and wet gravel grace both the nose and the finish.  In the mid-palate it’s all quince, pear and spiced apples.  At the pairing seminar I hosted at the winery it was delicious with buttered popcorn and Piave cheese. Most amazing of all is its ageability.  The wine improves in bottle easily for 10 years. In magnums I have had it as old as 20 years and it was stellar. The modest price is a gift for wine lovers.