HandCraft Chardonnay with Chicken Imperial.
HandCraft Chardonnay with Chicken Imperial.

HandCraft Chardonnay 2011, California

Cost: $11-13

What: One of the things that keeps the wine industry so interesting is that there is always something new. You don’t have to drink the same thing every day.

HandCraft is a new brand started by a family that has been growing grapes in California for nearly 90 years. Cheryl Indelicato became interested in the wine business as a child, but education, work and raising a family took her away from it for many years.

She returned to the family wine business–DFV Wines–in 1990, and in 2010 she teamed with veteran winemaker Alicia Ysais to create HandCraft Artisan Collection, California wines with a touch of Italian heritage.

The Chardonnay is a fantastic wine, especially at this price. It’s bright and refreshing, with lots of fruit. It starts with floral aromas with touches of lemon and green apple. The taste has hints of peach, honey, citrus with a creamy mouthfeel. It is a medium bodied wine with good acid.

HandCraft Chardonnay.
HandCraft Chardonnay.

The wine is primarily Chardonnay, with a small amount of other white aromatics and a dash of Malvasia Bianca. It was aged 4-6 months, 50% in oak and 50% in stainless steel. I think the stainless steel gives it a bright crispness you don’t often find in Chardonnay at this price. Serve the wine well chilled.

Cheryl Indelicato says she is thrilled to finally fulfill her dream of creating her own wine brand.

“Choosing a wine can be intimidating,” she said, “so I wanted to make certain that if someone chose my wine, they would be rewarded with an enjoyable experience. As Alicia and I began work on the wine blends, we found that adding a bit of Italian and heritage varietals lifted the aromatics and fruit flavors. When it came time to give these wines a name, we settled on HandCraft, a reflection of the personal touch we put into every bottle.”

Winery: Gaspare Indelicato moved to California from Italy and planted his first vines for the Delicato Family Vineyards in 1924. He started making his own wines in 1935.

As the business grew Gaspare’s three sons joined the business, and now the third generation of the family is active. The family says it is dedicated to environmentally sensitive and economically sustainable business practices.

The winery harvests grapes from Napa, Lodi, Monterey and Sonoma to craft wines that express the diversity of these appellations. Their brands include Gnarly Head, Delicato, Twisted, Bota Box, Black Stallion, Loredona, Massimo, Brazin, Domino, Fog Head and Irony.

Besides the Chardonnay, HandCraft also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Noir and a Petite Sirah, all priced at about $12.

They have a tasting room in Manteca, Calif., about one hour south of San Francisco.

Goes with: During the holidays when things get rushed, it’s nice to have some easy-to-fix dishes you know will be good. One of those for me is chicken supreme. I got the basic recipe from my neighbor Jack when I was fresh out of graduate school.

Jack and I and our wives would gather in one of our apartments on Friday nights and listen to rock ‘n’ roll records while eating dinner and sipping a beer or two. One night he slipped in a couple of opera records and started my addiction to the art form I didn’t expect to like.

He also showed me how to make a quick elegant meal. Take a couple of boneless chicken breasts dusted with flour, brown in butter and olive oil, saute chopped onions, add cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup and cream and cook for a few minutes until the chicken is tender. Later I added some white wine and thyme to the recipe. You can serve it over pasta, or rice, or by itself.

It makes for a tasty meal, and it was perfectly matched to this Chardonnay.

The HandCraft also would go well with light fish or shellfish, salads, grilled chicken or mild cheeses.

The HandCraft winery suggested a cocktail made with their Chardonnay. Here’s the recipe:

Pink Pomegranate spritzer
Club Soda
HandCraft Chardonnay
Pama Pomegranate Liquor

Chill all ingredients. Fill champagne flute with:
•  2/3 parts Chilled HandCraft Chardonnay
• 1/3 part Ice Cold Club Soda
• Splash or two of Pama Pomegranate liquid

Serve Immediately.

You may also serve this in a tall highboy or chimney glass, over ice.  Try this especially when the weather is warm. It keeps your drink cold and refreshing. 

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