The Cheers National Wine Panel
recommends a lineup of top moderately prices white wines.
This year, Cheers presents the selections of our wine panel organized not by varietal or region, but by price. At a time when sourcing good quality wines at value prices is increasingly difficult, we think it’s particularly useful to share the insights of our panel and spread the word that wines can be appreciated at any price point. This month, the panel looks at white wines with a retail price between $15 and $30. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a numerical rating and the wine’s suggested retail price (which varies market to market).
*****(95) ZD Chardonnay 2002 (California). A beautiful full-bodied chardonnay with ripe apricot, honey and toasty notes; well balanced with great forward fruit and acidity; creamy. ($28)
*****(95) Zaca Mesa Roussanne 2003 (California). On the nose are aromas of apricot, figs, honey and spice that fill the glass; a lingering finish with a touch of minerality; enjoy with grilled halibut or rosemary roasted chicken. ($23)
*****(94) Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Chardonnay 2003 (Spain). From Spain’s famous Navarra region; barrel-fermented in American and Allier Barriques; simply lovely with a soft, buttery texture and hints of pear, apple and butterscotch; just enough acidity for a long, clean finish. ($16)
*****(94) Vero Chardonnay Bourgogne 2002 (France). A great Bourgogne blanc; best of all worlds, with minerality from Chablis, richness of Meursault, elegance from Puligny and cream from Chassagne. ($17)
***** (94) Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay 2003 (California). Well-balanced and silky with supple texture and a long finish; layers of tropical fruit with oak in the background. ($28)
*****(94) Jordan Russian River Chardonnay 2002 (California). Delightfully clean and crisp with apple, pear and peach notes, lots of vanilla and cream and a satisfying finish; nicely matched with cold lobster salads. ($29)
*****(94) Long Vineyards Chardonnay 2001 (California). A Burgundian-style chardonnay with aromas of pear and apple; in the mouth the wine displays layer upon layer of flavors and suggests grand cru white burgundy, but at a fraction of the cost. ($25)
*****(93) Clos St. Michel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2003 (France). The crisp apple and tropical fruit on the nose are only a hint of the richness that caresses the palate; notes of beeswax, toast and cream intermingle with pear, apple and pineapple, balanced with a crisp acidity that makes this a perfect foil for rich seafood and poultry dishes; the finish is long and soft, providing final hints of citrus and spring flowers. ($25)
*****(93) Maison Joseph Drouhin Chablis, Montmains Premier Cru 2003 (France). Benchmark Chablis from Burgundy’s most consistent producer; with a bucket of oysters and a bottle of this wine, it doesn’t get much better. ($28)
***** (93) St. Innocent Anden Vineyard Chardonnay 2002 (Oregon). Produced from nine-year old Dijon clone vines, this wine displays aromas of toast, butter and spices; sappy, satin-textured and medium-bodied; a broad-expressioned wine packed with rich layers of spicy minerals, nutmeg, buttered pears and toast. ($22)
*****(93) Domaine Michel Picard Chassagne 1999 (Montrachet, France) Brilliant straw-yellow color; aromas of vanilla and toast; will pair nicely with buttery, soft cheese or dishes made with rich, creamy sauces; spectacular chardonnay. ($40)
*****(93) Tramin “Nussbaumer” Gewurztraminer 2002 (Trentino, Italy). World-class gew