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Waterstone Chardonnay: Crisp and balanced

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Still keeping with their minimalist philosophy of owning the least amounts of land, winery operations, and tasting facilities possible, Philip Zorn and Brent Shortridge are still at it. Since 2000, their wines still remain one of the best values out there.

The action plan is clear, they focus on the wine itself and the essential relationships needed to support it. Their operation, Waterstone Winery may be elusive in facilities and equipment, but the wine tells another story.

The quality of their 2012 Chardonnay is yet another example of this. It’s nicely priced at ($18) and is the perfect example of how affordable wines can taste beyond their price tag.

Its bouquet is not typical of a Chardonnay. At first impact, it comes forward with lemon grass, vegetable greens, and a little baked bread. As it opens up, there are nuances of green apples and flint plus a little oak, but these are in the background, making it a very intriguing Chardonnay. What’s really in the background is oak, like a French wine, this one is crisp and refreshing, making it perfect with seafood.

Waterstone has created another distinctive wine and an excellent example of what to expect from Napa’s 2012 vintage. There will be a lot more to enjoy thanks to the perfect conditions that prevailed two years ago. If there are more like this, bring ‘em on!

Because Waterstone has a limited distribution, they sell primarily from their website, or you can taste then buy at The Taste at Oxbow right in downtown Napa. They have a spacious counter and bar tables making it quite easy to walk up for service and then sit down to enjoy.

Be sure to try this Chardonnay as a starter with shrimp cocktail. Just add a dash of lemon squeezed on the shrimp to make it perfect, a harmony in taste that really works. If you want, compare with a Sauvignon Blanc from 2012 and make note of the character of the acidity and bouquets of the two wines.

Serve moderately chilled. This Chard needs to be about 50 degrees to show its stuff.

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