When we think of white wines from Burgundy we think of flint, of the mineral taste of the limestone-rich soils in which the grapes grow. A lovely embodiment of that essence is the 2006 Ardèche Chardonnay from Maison Louis Latour, which also happens to be a spectacular bargain (about $8 at wine shops and wine-savvy specialty markets).
This delightful wine opens with a barely floral aroma that smells of a cool mountain meadow on a sunny day. At first sip the flint is evident in a mouth-filling, beautifully rounded taste layered with hints of dried apricot and green tea. It is eminently refreshing, revealing a delicacy that will be a revelation to California chardonnay drinkers who have come to expect their palates to be overwhelmed by aggressive oak and vanilla. There is no oak at all in this steel-tank-fermented wine, which underpins its austere pleasures with the heft lent it by malolactic fermentation. The Ardèche finishes long and smooth, leaving its intimations of spring lingering on the tongue.
This wine is just right for drinking on its own, as a palate-energizing aperitif or later in the evening, as the day winds down. When pairing it with food, bring out your best summer recipes, maybe starting with a velvety chilled vichyssoise followed by lime-marinated grilled shrimp and a minty tabbouleh salad.
Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.