Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($25.99)
Very clear straw color. Apples, pineapple and dates, "tropical fruit" character is present but held well in hand. Mouth-filling, fresh fruit is well balanced by tart, mouth-watering acidity that builds a sturdy structure. Alcohol (14.2% claimed in the tiniest type I have ever seen) adds a hint of texture and warmth. Still, it's a nicely balanced and appealing estate-bottled Chardonnay from a maker that has consistently readjusted my instinctively somewhat negative attitude toward many fatter, softer California Chardonnays. US Importer: N/A (Sep 2, 2008)

FOOD MATCH: Balanced Chardonnay marries well with pork, poultry or fish; it served well enough with a more unconventional match, a light and cooling late-summer dinner of Caprese, heirloom tomato caprese with fresh garden tomatoes and basil with fresh local cow's milk mozzarella, and a fresh spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs and warm bacon dressing.

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