Picture yourself spreading a picnic blanket in the shade of a pear tree heavy with ripe fruit on a cool, sunny day in the Pacific Northwest. The air is rich with the scent of fruit and a hint of autumn. When you pull the cork on the chilled bottle of 2008 Snoqualmie Naked Chardonnay you picked up for about $12 at that big box store back in the city, the aroma does nothing but intensify.
The wonderful and subtly inflected savor of pears is everywhere in this wine pressed from grapes grown organically in Washington's Columbia Valley and vinified by veteran winemaking wizard Joy Andersen.
It begins with the allure of spice-poached pear on the nose and then a big burst of unrestrained ripe fruit on the tongue. A smidge of apricot and notes of ginger, cinnamon and clove round out a full and pleasing mid palate. Pear dominates the crisp finish, too, ably abetted by just a bit of tangerine at the very end. All this makes for a luscious, mouth-filling wine that drinks cleanly and begs to be paired with a cool salad of pears, arugula and goat cheese garnished with walnuts. A book of verse and a crusty loaf would be eminently agreeable companions, too.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.