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Senior Tim Fish joined the Wine Spectator staff in 2001. His tasting beat includes Oregon, Washington, California Zinfandel and Rhône-style reds, and U.S. sparkling wines.
Tim Fish

A California Chardonnay Built for Salmon

Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2009

Tim Fish
Posted: July 26, 2010

Along the Northern California coast, our food year is divided into two distinct seasons: salmon in the summer and Dungeness crab in the winter. Both are Chardonnay seasons in our house. (Or Sauvignon Blanc, too, in the case of crab.) While both crab and salmon are sadly in decline in this part of the Pacific, we try to eat both as often as we can.

During salmon season, I take a laid-back approach. The other night, I grilled a salmon fillet on a wood plank, rubbing the fish with olive oil and topping it simply with slices of lemon and onion, salt and pepper. I then added a few dabs of butter toward the end because I was feeling decadent. For the plank, I used alder because it imparts a milder flavor but still preserves the natural moisture of the fish. (Cherry is also good, but harder to find.)

For the wine, I opened the just-released Crossbarn Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2009. It seemed appropriate with the Sonoma Coast salmon we were eating. Crossbarn is Paul Hobbs’ second label, but it doesn’t taste second place. It’s crisp yet rich and creamy, with notes of baked apples and spice. While Chardonnays with the Hobbs label run $50 or more, the Crossbarn is a reasonable $25. I rated it 91 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for other Crossbarn bottlings.

• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among California Chardonnay, for $25 or less.

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