The Santa Clara Valley isn’t known for this grape, but in the case of Sarah’s Vineyard, chardonnay does indeed have history. The newly released 2016 Estate Chardonnay, $32, is a study in restraint. Although the nose gives away its barrel-fermented origins, the oak, 25 percent new French, never weighs down the pretty summer bounty of fruit, oozing ripe golden apples, melons and mandarins.
Just the slightest hint of tropical shows up in the middle, but overall, the wine pulsates warmth and juiciness, finishing with cashew brittle. The oldest planting on the property, it’s fitting that Tim Slater chose chardonnay to be the official 40th anniversary wine for Sarah’s Vineyard.
John and Carolyn Aver have long enjoyed chardonnay, especially from Sonoma County. They were beyond thrilled to gain access to grapes from the Durrell Vineyard, prized for its balance of ripe orchard fruit, acidline of citrus and silky texture. The 2015 Aver Family Reverance ($50) offers a sublime confluence of ripe pear and peach, plus a noseful of butterscotch and crème brûlée.
If you, like me, can never decide between lemon meringue and butter pecan pie, this wine lets you off the hook with its sweet vanilla custard core and tangy citrus. Despite the ample alcohol of 15.2 percent, the finish washes clean and precise.