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J Vineyards Chardonnay

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Russian River

Fans of premium California Chardonnay (or any white wine fan, for that matter) should not miss this well-crafted, hugely acclaimed find from J Vineyards.

This top estate plants their vines along sloping hillsides in the cool Russian River Valley, where the perfect sun exposure and gentle fog rolling in from the Pacific help ripen grapes perfectly.

Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse then treats the fruit to a very gentle pressing in her Coquard press (a traditional, basket-style press very highly prized in Champagne), followed by nearly a year's rest in top-of-the-line French oak barrels. Here's the plush, yet refined result, which she describes as "a combination of old world minimalism and new world verve."

Verve, indeed. The Wine Magazine's Spring 2011 Quarterly Review hailed Melissa's 2007 as a "Best of the Best" California Chardonnay. "Nice, crisp, well-knit, toast and lemon curd flavors. ... Excellent!" And, it comes "very highly recommended" by the critics at California Grapevine, who gave it 91 Points and had this to say:

"Attractive, herbal, lemony, appley aroma with tropical notes and traces of vanilla and butterscotch; medium-full to full body; forward, rich, buttery, apple and white peach flavors with spicy notes and a creamy mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste. Shows some elegance with well integrated fruit and oak."