When it comes to un-oaked versions of chardonnay, the standard for me is Chablis, the northern Burgundy appellation where most of the wines are made without exposure to wood but have a good deal of complexity thanks to their distinct minerality. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to find that character in un-oaked chardonnays from California, and the wines often suffer from a one-dimensionality without the added element of barrel aging. One wine that succeeds, however, is St. Supéry’s 2009 Oak Free Chardonnay from the Napa Valley.
I brought a bottle of it to a dinner the other night -- friends roasted a whole 16-pound striped bass on the grill with lots of fresh thyme, parsley and lemon -- and the wine was a great way to start things off as eight of us got ready to feast on this magnificent fish outdoors on a cool evening under a moon-filled sky. The wine is notable for its refreshing style, and one of our friends said it reminded her of sauvignon blanc with its slightly grassy and citrus notes. I myself found a good deal of grapefruit and green apple in the mix and, interestingly, the wine turns out to be 99 percent chardonnay and one percent sauvignon blanc, demonstrating how a little bit of sauvignon can go a long way. Alcohol is 13.5 percent and acidity is ample, making this not only an excellent food wine but one that nicely whets the appetite for things to come. The suggested price is $22. (Received as a press sample.)