Here we go again, beating the drum for unoaked chards, wines of character fermented in stainless steel and forgoing the secondary (malolactic) fermentation that gives many California chards their buttery quality. Lots of people love butter, of course, and the savor of wine aged in oak barrels, too, but it's good to have choices.
The 2012 SeaGlass Unoaked Chardonnay from California's coastal Santa Barbara County (about $11 at wine-savvy markets) is a bright and sunny exemplar of the leaner, cleaner style.
A nose of light citrus, peach and a hint of stone's flintiness start us off, setting the stage for the really big pure fruit that bursts on the tongue. Peach definitely dominates, complemented by the slightly drier snap of nectarine. Ultra-clean citrus and maybe a hint of green apple round out a gorgeous mid-palate. Lush fruit persists through a long lovely finish asserted by an affirmative whiff of white pepper at the very last.
We tasted this wine with a dinner of pan-sauteed mahi-mahi and baby bok choy and found the combination delicious. It also would pair well with a salad of roasted beets, fresh pear and goat cheese.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.