California’s Original Cult Chardonnay

California’s Original Cult Chardonnay

Try it with shellfish, ceviche or a couscous salad

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If you’re old enough, you know that Stony Hill Chardonnay, from Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain District, was (and is?) California’s first cult white. This is only the third time I’ve tasted it. Usually, one had to be on their mailing list to get any. But small amounts are now available at retail, and I would definitely seek it out. What makes it so special? That is one of those imponderables. But less oak influence and picking the grapes when they “feel” right rather than counting on a computer-generated algorithm seems a good bet. This wine has been likened to a French Corton-Charlemagne or sometimes a Grand Cru Chablis. Regardless, this is a high-energy drink that favors steely grace over bigness, great aging potential but instant gratification as well. In short, a unique wine from a blessed location.

2015 Stony Hill Chardonnay $48 srp

Greenish-gold color towards sunlit straw. The bouquet is bright, with with a floral, citric edge; grassy overtones and a clean, nutty edge spells Chardonnay defined. Flavors are generous and seamless, including stone fruits, green apple, pear with a touch of honey and a spicy, mouth-watering finish. Firm, yet somehow luxurious, this is a wonderful “flinty” style of Chardonnay. Already delicious, try it with shellfish, Ceviche or a Couscous salad. Drink now-2023.

93/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.