No one says you have to subject yourself to a crowded cantina and swill margaritas on May 5. Give it a rest and head to your favorite restaurant with a great wine list. Or just get out your credit card and go shopping. There are so many great white wines in California they deserve their own celebration. Here are a few recommendations to get you started.
Chardonnay—California chards have been taking it on the chin for being overly oaked and buttery. The style swings to stainless steel and no malo lactic. But face it, some of old style chards are delicious. I tried one at a tasting in Napa Style at South Coast Plaza that I really liked. Darms Lane 2009 Chardonnay ($28) sourced from Oak Knoll in Napa it’s got a rich buttery feel and a hint of minerality, nice peach and pear fruit.
Another outstanding chard I tasted recently came from Smith-Madrone. Their Spring Mountain District 2008 chard ($30) left me craving more. The fruit is big but regal, the wine is oaked but not overly so. There’s some citrus but it’s balanced by orchard fruits. Sip after sip, you just can’t get enough.
If you’re spending the evening at home you might want to toast Jess Jackson, who passed away April 21. He’s the guy whose bold Kendall-Jackson wines set the tone for California chards for decades. Let’s face it, he turned many of us away from beer and white zin so we really owe him. If you’ve outgrown his big chards try his Avant ($14), a blend of two chards, one aged in stainless steel, the other in oak.
Sauv Blanc—Robert Mondavi’s To Kalon Fumé Blanc Reserve 2009 ($40) sneaks up on you, announcing itself with a delicate floral bouquet and light lemon on the palate. Subsequent sips reveal spice, a delicate cardamom that definitely speaks of the soil.
There is a sauv blanc that is made for Cinco de Mayo and that’s Veladora ($25). Leave it to trendy Orin Swift to come up with a gorgeous label emblazoned with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, hence the name, derived from those ubiquitous votive candles. I tried it at the big industry Family Winery tasting a few weeks ago and it’s very pleasant, a blend of sauv blanc, muscat, and semillon. Dig the tasting notes on its link, first time I’ve seen loquat as a descriptor. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!—Anne Valdespino