Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week
2009 Paul Dolan Chardonnay
Region: Mendocino County, California
Grape: 100 percent chardonnay
Alcohol: 13.5 percent
Serve with: salmon, chicken, rabbit
I’ve complained a lot in print about excessively oaked California chardonnay. Here’s one that shows the state’s winemakers can still produce modestly-priced, balanced, focused bottlings that de-emphasize the oak to bring out all the sex appeal of the grape — and give it the crisp, lean character that can make it such a pleasure at the table.
There’s lots to like about the 2009 Paul Dolan Chardonnay. It has just the right amount of fruit and restrained alcohol. It brims with noticeable richness and minerality and bright lemony notes of refreshing acidity, all of which make it a super food wine.
What brought out this character? Most of the wine (91 percent) was fermented and kept in stainless-steel tanks to retain crispness. The rest was fermented and aged in American oak barrels to add dimension to the taste without imparting woody impressions.
The wine’s green aspect is a huge plus. Paul Dolan’s commitment to earth-friendly grape-farming started in 1987, and he practices organic and biodynamic grape-growing in his vineyards, banning the synthetic chemicals used in conventional farming. Dolan is convinced organic grape-growing isn’t just nice to Mother Nature, but results in better-tasting wine. As I sipped, I thought of all the life lurking in the vineyard, bringing us hope of spring.
This chardonnay was made from 100 percent Mendocino County organically-grown grapes, sourced from a mix of cool and warm sites in the Ukiah Valley watershed. It’s certified by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).
The price goes down easy too: $18 a bottle. With its lively, cleansing acidity, this chardonnay is a great choice to serve with fish, but I’m planning to have the next bottle with one of my favorite pairings with this varietal, mustard-coated rabbit.
Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”