John was prowling the aisles of a local wine shop, searching for a wine we wanted to write about. The shop didn't stock it. Bummer. Then his eye fell on an old favorite — Cambria "Katherine's Vineyard" Chardonnay (about $18 at big-box stores, wine shops and supermarkets) — and the day was saved. The current release is the 2007 vintage but we were just as happy to drink the 2006 we plucked from the shelf.
This estate bottled wine, made from grapes grown on the Santa Maria Bench near Santa Barbara, Calif., is a darling of sommeliers because of its rock solid reliability. Winemaker Denise Shurtleff enjoys the luxury of employing hand-sourced grapes from the winery's own vineyards, year in and year out, which allows her to take full advantage of whatever a particular growing season sends her way.
The Katherine's Vineyard chard is big and mouth-filling, buttery and lush without being overblown. Vanilla and oak are present but are so delicately balanced that the fruit, especially peach and pear, really sing on the tongue. The nose is subtle and elegant, the finish long and smooth.
This wine would be perfect with authentic fettuccine Alfredo, in which the only ingredients are noodles, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It also would complement either a grilled mild fish like mahi mahi or a dish as rich and dense as lobster with drawn butter.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.