You may know the name, perhaps too well. Sonoma-Cutrer has specialized in chardonnay for so long that it has topped most restaurant wine lists for years and has run the risk of over-oaked over-familiarity.
Not this bottle. It's a new mid-range blend of the best foggy S-C vineyards on the coast, from a superb 2005 crop. You'll taste juicy fruit basket to start, with a whiff of lemons on the nose and a platter of apples, melons, pears and pineapples in the mouth. Winemakers imposed a leaner style, crisp from the get-go, spiked with ginger and spice, front and back. Butter and cream, sure, but not too much, more like a lemon gingersnap.
The second vintage is on its way with equally ripe 2006 grapes and a similar balance. It's the treat of a restaurant fave at your-house prices.
Availability: $25 in wide distribution.