by Andrew Chalk
2013 Franciscan Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley is what I would serve someone who asked me “What are the hallmarks of California Chardonnay?” Most of them are here and upfront at that.
There is the vanilla in the nose, reflecting the ample use of French oak in the ageing process. Plus the bouquet of tropical fruit, in this case mango. The soft, creamy mouthfeel from a full malolactic fermentation (in which yeast converts the tart malic acid, typical of green apples, to softer lactic acid). The flavors of tropical fruit, confirming the nose, plus ripe yellow apples, ripe red grapefruit, a medium acidity level and a medium finish. It is not overly complex but $18 is a pretty aggressive price for a Chardonnay made from expensive Napa Valley fruit.
Quaff this wine on its own or serve with lobster, roast chicken or white-sauce pasta dishes.
Franciscan Estate wines are widely available in grocery and liquor stores around the metroplex. It is likely you will pay less than the stated price in many places. You may find the 2012 (rather than the 2013) vintage on area shelves. No problem. There is little vintage variation and that wine is a suitable alternative. Enjoy!