One recent weekend, both Saturday and Sunday found me waiting for a table for brunch, checking out two small by-the-glass lists at two different Manhattan restaurants. By-the-glass Chardonnay is not usually the best bet in my mind—as you too often end up with a rather generic glass of wine—but both restaurants had interesting options available.
On Saturday, I tried the 2006 Keller Oro De Plata Chardonnay, a ripe and juicy wine, with a plumpness to the peach and melon flavors that was well-balanced by the tangy, orangey acidity. I gave this Sonoma Coast bottling 89 points, non-blind.
I also gave 89 points, non-blind, to Sunday’s wine—Sanford’s 2007 Chardonnay, from Santa Barbara County. This creamy white showed hints of lemon zest, hay, lemongrass and spice, backed by a subtle frame of stony acidity. There was a pleasant leesy note on the finish—very mild—that I associate with white Burgundy from the Mâcon.
Both wines showed the same quality, and both wines were about the same price—$11 a glass for the Keller and $10.50 for the Sanford—but they were very different stylistically. This is a tribute to how adaptable Chardonnay is to different winemaking techniques and microclimates, which is part of the reason that this grape finds so many fans.
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for recently rated Top Values among California Chardonnay, for $25 and less.