Wine of the Week: 2007 Bouchaine Chene d'Argent Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard

These 80 degree afternoons beg for a glass of crisp, white wine. Sipping a cool, refreshing white is the closest thing we get to a summer vacation these days. On this particular sunny afternoon, we decided to expand our horizons and choose an un-oaked Chardonnay from Napa Valley-Carneros.

If you think all California Chardonnays must be swimming in butter, you would be wrong. The 2007 Bouchaine Chene d'Argent Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel tanks, preserving a lot of the fruit flavor. Actually, Chene d'Argent means "silvery oak," a clever description of their fermenting style. The Bouchaine winemaker, Michael Richmond, tries to stay away from masking the fruit with heavy oak and butter, which he claims many California Chardonnay producers tend to do.

If you are a fan of classic oak barrel fermented Chardonnay, Bouchaine Winery does have a delicious 2007 Bouchaine Estate Bottled Chardonnay for about $20 at Spec's (roughly the same price as the Chene d'Argent Chardonnay). But on this particular occasion, we opted for something a little different.

The unoaked Bouchaine was citrusy and refreshing while still maintaining that classic rich Chardonnay mouth feel. We were unsure whether we liked it at first. But as we continued to sip on it, the wine got better. (No, it was not because we were getting tipsier.) We paired it with pork tenderloin and green beans, but it would be great on its own as well.

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