Tuesday, July 03, 2007

For the 4th, an American Wine

It's July 4th folks, and as an American, a Brooklynite, I feel compelled to write a little sumpthin about an American wine.

I recently discovered a Napa Valley Chardonnay that I really like. I know, sounds odd, right? To be honest, it happened completely by mistake. I was babysitting for my pal Deetrane and we have this rule that when we babysit for each other, we get to open wine from the other guy's cellar. So on a recent very hot Friday night I go down to his basement and open the fridge, imagining sipping a yummy and cool Chardonnay.

He has a 2000 1er Cru Puligny Montrachet - too fancy for solo drinking I figure. He has a lovely looking 2002 1er Cru Meursault Les Charmes, but again, I don't feel quite right cracking open Deetrane's fancy wine. But what is this - a California Chardonnay? Why, yes it is. Stony Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay. Expecting a fat and buttery Cali-Chard, I take it upstairs and open it.

Was I ever wrong! The wine was DELICIOUS, and it resembled good Burgundy Chardonnay far more than any California Chard I've had. I have since read a little bit about the producer, and I learned that they use very little new oak, trying not to add oak to the flavor profile of the wine. They inhibit malolactic fermentation (hence non-buttery) in order to preserve the natural acidity in the wine. I wonder if they use natural yeasts...I bet they do, because they generally seem to be keeping it real at Stony Hill.

This wine was so good that Deetrane and I made a four player trade involving his 2 remaining bottles of Stony Hill and a few reds that were languishing on the bench on my team (2001 Flor de Pingus, 1999 Tenuta Friggiali Brunello di Montalcino). Clearly both clubs benefit from the deal, as all players will see significant playing time on their new rosters.

2002 Stony Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay, about $30 retail.
I don't think I agree with their tasting note exactly - I got nothing at all tropical, but I agree that it is delicious wine. Hay colored with a bright citrus and wet rock nose. Crisp and clean, very dry, vibrant citrus fruit with some stone fruits and minerals. Nice acidity, well balanced. The wine blossomed in the glass over the first half hour, taking on deeper floral aromas and flavors of green apple and spice. Seriously impressive stuff.

Happy Independence Day y'all!


Anonymous said...

Looks like 13% abv. I haven't seen a level that low on a California wine since I don't know when. But you know how it is when you've been disappointed by something umpteen times and you get reluctant to try again? (Members of my family like their Chardonnays big and woody, so I taste a few.) Your note looks interesting but the skeptic in me wonders if you got a 'bad' bottle!

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Steve - and the 2002 is 12.8% - how do you like them apples! I was and am skeptical too, but I have two more bottles to try, so I will let you know. Another thing that makes me think this is the real deal is that Chambers Street Wines in NYC carries this producer from time to time, and they are serious about natural wines. They are not into the new world butterball chards. definitely not a bad bottle - it was excellent.

Unknown said...

Hopefully the comments will go through. I am familiar with Stony Hill from the seventies while I have never tasted the wines. They always have been given top reviews. I have 1996 Chardonnay in my wine cellar.
The big buttery Chards you are talking about go through Malolactic Fermentation. A fave of mine is Mayacamas which also does not go through Malolactic Fermentation.
Bob Travers does a great job. The Cabernet Sauvignon need at least ten years before they are beginning to evolve. Mayacamas Chards is around 13 1/2 to 13 %. Hopes this helps.

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Sheila - i will keep my eyes open for Mayacamas, thanks. i am much more into un-oaked and non malo'd chard, methinks. don't have too much experience with either, but the more i taste the more i learn