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After Hours With Naomi: Chardonnay

[image: photography by Maya Visnyei]

It must be biological, but this time of year all I want to do is hunker down at home with a cozy blanket, read Pride and Prejudice (for the 20th time) and eat cheesy-buttery-fried things.

Starting with the first cold day and the first leaf hitting the ground, I start running through all of all my guilty pleasures—pizza, poutine, spaghetti carbonara, chocolate cream pie… but the absolute guiltiest of my guilty pleasures? A good bottle of Chardonnay, plain Ruffles chips, and onion dip (I vacillate between the kind you make yourself with the packets of onion soup mix and the pre-made Heluva Good Dip stuff). 

Don’t judge it until you’ve tried it. It is hands down the perfect combination of salt, to acid, to crispy, to creamy that you’ll find.

Let me be clear though, when I say Chardonnay, I mean the good stuff—not those crappy bottles of badly over-oaked, cheap gallon jug stuff from California (I blame them for Chardonnay’s bad rap). The reason many people say they don’t like Chardonnay is likely because they haven’t ever tasted a good one. The problem with Chardonnay is that like its Burgundian brethren Pinot Noir, it’s tough to find a decent one for under $20 (if you’ve found one please let me know!).

Among some of my all-time favourites (from my pre-mortgage days) are: Stuhlmuler Alexander Valley Chardonnay, Domain Colin-Deléger Chassagne-Montrachet, Rudd Bacigalupi Chardonnay and any of the Ramey ones. If you live in Ontario you won’t find these at the LCBO but if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon any of them on a restaurant wine list, be sure to check them out.

Saddled with a new mortgage, I’ve had to branch out, looking outside of California and Burgundy in search of a good value. Luckily, my persistence paid off; with the recent release in the LCBO of the 2008 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay, I’ve found a winner. Produced right here in Covet Garden’s own backyard, for the reasonable price of $19.95 (although still a bit too much of a stretch make a regular occurrence in my glass). Because it was matured in a blend of both French Oak and Stainless steel it is beautifully balanced with a lush creamy mouth-feel, flavours of fresh apple and buttered toast, all backed with bright citrus notes and a nice crisp acidity. All in all, the perfect sidekick for my chips and dip.

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