If you're a sommelier, there are plenty of interesting things to drink besides Chardonnay, right? Not exactly. Now that Chardonnay is shedding its reputation for heavy oak and alcohol, wine directors are once again giving it its due, turning to the bestselling (and most pronounceable) white wine in America for its freshness and food-pairing flexibility. Here are five top sommeliers and the Chardonnays they like to see in their glass.
Haley Guild Moore
Restaurant: Stock & Bones (Irving Street Kitchen in Portland, Oregon; Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, Salt House, San Francisco)
Wine of Choice: Liquid Farm White Hill Chardonnay 2011, Sta. Rita Hills, California
"Truly Chablis-inspired: Chalky and mineral-driven, this wine shows great depth and concentration layered with citrus notes and white flowers."
Restaurant: TAO Group NYC (Lavo, Tao Uptown, Tao Downtown, Arlington Club), New York
Wine of Choice: Antica Terra Aurata Chardonnay 2010, Willamette Valley, Oregon
"It's silky and polished without being heavy; pure Chardonnay fruit with super-classy golden delicious apple aromas and bright citrus notes providing lift."
Restaurant: Grace, Chicago
Wine of Choice: Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé 2005, Burgundy, France "I have been really enjoying the resurgence of clean, fresh, and structured Chardonnays. I'm always on the hunt to find an affordable, stunning white Burgundy; in this wine I've truly found it."
Restaurant: Camerata Wine Bar, Houston
Wine of Choice: Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2008, New Zealand
"A single vineyard that has terrific restraint, just the right amount of oak, nutty notes, fruit, and crunchy minerality. The Brajkovich family crafts wines that are marked by balance, structure, and an amazing ability to age."
Restaurant: ink., Los Angeles
Wine of Choice: Kalin Cellars Cuvée LD Chardonnay 1995, Sonoma County, California
"Kalin makes Chardonnay like no other in California; they hold their wines for a decade or more before release and the results are stunning, beautiful representations of the power of Chardonnay and the passion of the producer."