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2014 Flowers Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California (14.3% Alcohol) LCBO Vintages $68.95

If, like me, you happen to have any friends who are a wee bit snobby when it comes to their Chardonnays and tend to turn up their noses at anything Californian, then I’d strongly suggest that you grab yourself a bottle of this cracker and serve the first glass to them blind. I can guarantee that you won’t be drinking the rest of the bottle alone.

Although perhaps a bit pricey for most of our readership’s everyday drinking (it certainly is for me!), this Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from Flowers is worth every penny, and deserves all five of those shiny apples below when it comes to price/quality ratio alone.

Sourced from a cluster of contract growers’ vineyards in the very west of Sonoma, and containing a parcel of Flowers’ estate fruit, this exceptional example of cooler climate Californian Chardonnay seriously bowled me over. Since first tasting Flowers wines some years ago, I had always been impressed by their wines’ definition, crispness, and bright, vibrant fruit, but this vintage really took me by surprise. Where many a Californian Chardonnay falls at the very first hurdle, a clumsy mess of chubby, overripe fruit, this one breaks out from the pack and takes the gold.

The 20% new French cooperage does exactly what was asked of it, adding a tiny little cheeky sprinkle of warm spice to this powerful, and yet poised and elegant wine. It’s a complex beast, with a defined, mouth-watering citrusy, lemon note running throughout both nose and palate. Texturally, all of that Californian alcohol, ripe fruit, and richness is lifted effortlessly by the wine’s outstandingly crisp seam of acidity, making the wine truly dance in the mouth ; This factor makes it the ideal wine for the dinner table, unlike many of the mediocre Californian Chardonnays that you’ll find on the shelves these days.

One of my favourite New World wines of 2016 thus far.

Post Script: It would probably actually benefit from a year in the cellar. Delicious now, but I feel it would improve with 12 months asleep in the dark.

(Five apples out of a possible five)

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And could do with a glass of that Flowers Chardonnay right this moment… and it’s only 10am.