Must-Try Wine of the Week: Beringer 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley

We often assume a large-volume producer such as Beringer would be more focused on the quantity aspect of wine production. But remember what happens when we “assume.” A case in point is this 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay. I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical before I tried it. I, too, assumed that the sheer size of the Beringer operation might prevent it from really dialing in an artisanal-styled wine. I was wrong.

After harvest, Beringer winemaker Laurie Hook sends the fruit directly to press, and ferments the juice in 88 percent new French oak. The lees (yeast cells that collect at the bottom of the barrel) is stirred to bring out the toasty notes, while going through malolactic fermentation to increase the creaminess and texture. Each lot is kept separated throughout the 9-month aging process, until final blending.

The result is a lovely slight bright nose of baked apple, light citrusy notes, and just a hint of toast. The wine is of medium weight, and crisp and juicy on the palate, with a very nice balanced acidity. The spiced apple and citrus flavors are faintly sweet, with a crisp bit of tartness on the long finish. This is a perfect match for any white fish or lighter chicken-based dishes. Under $30, and available locally at Wine Exchange, Amazing Grapes, and Total Wine, Tustin.

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