When Paul Steinauer was a child, he was given a thimbleful of wine at dinner, and while he would try his best to say "good wine," it always came out "dood wine."
Steinauer is the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner — the Flora Springs, 2012 Napa Valley Barrel Fermented Chardonnay at $35.
"I guess my love of wine started before I knew what wine really was," Steinauer joked, referring to his childhood sipping.
As for the Flora Springs winning chardonnay, it's a striking wine with a lush texture. It's complex, with layered flavors of pear, apple, mango and honey. It's balanced with nice acidity, and yet rich with a lingering finish.
Steinauer said what the uninitiated may not know about chardonnay is "that it can be enjoyed as much by itself, as a stand-alone wine, but is also among the most versatile of the white wines to be paired with a plethora of dishes ranging from a butternut squash soup to seared sea scallops."
The most gratifying part of making a chardonnay, Steinauer said, "is to produce a wine that will introduce the uninitiated to a variety that they will enjoy, as well as reintroduce the initiated that may have been turned off by some New World styles to a style that they will learn to enjoy again."
The winery doesn't have to concern itself with chasing wine styles, Steinauer said.
"Flora Springs is fortunate to own upwards of 700 acres of vineyards spanning seven appellations," he said. "We have the resources to make a wine that will appeal to a variety of styles among the three chardonnays in our portfolio."
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
<strong>Wine of the Week: Scouting for the tastiest chardonnays</strong>
Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of chardonnays, from lean to lush. The flight was impressive across the board, but our wine-of-the-week winner is the Flora Springs, 2012 Napa Valley Barrel Fermented Chardonnay at $35.
<strong>TOP PICK: Flora Springs</strong>
<strong> Flora Springs, 2012 Napa Valley Barrel Fermented Chardonnay,</strong> 14.2 percent alcohol, $35. 4 stars. This is a complex chardonnay with a lush texture. The layered flavors feature pear, apple, mango and honey. It's balanced with nice acidity, and yet rich, with a lingering finish. Striking.
<strong>Other impressive wines:</strong>
<strong>Rodney Strong, 2012 Chalk Hill, Sonoma County Chardonnay,</strong> 13.5 percent, $22 4 stars. A toasty chardonnay that's crisp and creamy with notes of mineral and toasty oak. Gorgeous fruit. Great balance. Nice length.
<strong>Sebastiani, 2012 Sonoma County Chardonnay,</strong> 13.5 percent, $14. 4 stars. A chardonnay with a tasty combination - rich butterscotch and bright apple. There's also toasty oak in the mix. Seamless texture. Lovely.
<strong>Bonterra, 2012 Mendocino County California Chardonnay,</strong> 13.5 percent, $14. 3 1/2 stars. A tropical chardonnay with notes of pineapple, lemon and honey. A hint of toasted almonds. Good minerality. Zesty finish.
<strong>Trione, 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay,</strong> 14.1 percent, $32. 4 stars. This is a chardonnay-lover's chardonnay, with Gravenstein apples, cream and a hint of clove. Silky texture. Rich. Round. Lush.