S ummertime is coming, so a lot of folks will be reaching for the Chardonnay, and the Clos du Bois will be one that happy wine drinkers will reach for often.

It’s a bright, lively Chardonnay, not too complicated, but far from simple. Pleasant aromas of pear and lemon are complemented by flavors of apple, pear and lemon with hints of butter, toasty oak and spice. The layers unfold as the wine opens in your glass.

Clos du Bois Chardonnay
Clos du Bois Chardonnay

I recently tried the Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon and loved it as well. This is a great duo for wine lovers who want complex wine without paying a fortune.

The winery has been popular for many years, and their Chardonnay was one of the first wines made 40 years ago. The company gets fruit from 500 acres of estate vineyards as well as from more than 100 contract growers in the North Coast appellation.

The North Coast covers six counties north of San Francisco (Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino, Lake and Solano), and contains some of the best vineyards in the state.

The grapes took a long time to ripen during the 2012 season, which always helps flavor development. Grapes that ripen quickly don’t develop much character.

The grapes were picked cool and gently pressed at the winery. After settling 65% of the must was barrel fermented in a combination of French and American oak. The rest of the juice was fermented in stainless steel. The wine also underwent malolactic fermentation to soften its acidity, giving the wine a pleasant, mellow feel.

The wine spent six months in barrels sur lee, with the lees stirred monthly before bottling.

This versatile wine is fine for sipping as an aperitif and even better with a light summer meal. Serve it well chilled and let it warm up slightly in the glass.

From: North Coast
Winery: Clos du Bois has been making wine for 40 years, gaining a reputation for consistent quality. Their first vintage was 1974 (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and reserve Cabernet Sauvignon), long before Sonoma County made its reputation as a great wine region.

The name comes from founder Frank Woods’ plan to name the new winery “Woods Vineyard.” His children, who were studying French at the time, suggested the more exotic “Clos du Bois” instead, which loosely translates to “enclosure in the woods.”

After traveling France’s wine regions, Woods returned home inspired to marry the elegant French style of winemaking with his vibrant California fruit. Decades later, the winery continues to embrace his artisanal winemaking philosophy, earning a devoted following among those who love refined, approachable wines.

The company farms almost 800 acres in diverse regions of Sonoma County and coastal California, working closely with growers with whom it has long-term relationships. The winery has been using sustainable practices since its beginning, and now gets nearly all of its power from solar panels.

The winery makes a wide variety of wines in several tiers. The Classic series includes everything from Malvasia Blanca, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio to Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Sonoma Reserve series includes Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and Malbec. Clos du Bois also offers a Marlstone premium red blend.

Cost: $13-15
Year: 2012

Clos du Bois Chardonnay pairs well with shrimp stir fry.
Clos du Bois Chardonnay pairs well with shrimp stir fry.
Goes with: My wife Teri and I loved this wine with stir-fried shrimp, using a recipe I have been using with chicken for 30 years. It includes a lot of vegetables such as celery, carrots, bell peppers, onions, snow peas and peanuts in a soy based sauce that includes fresh ginger, chicken bullion, red pepper flakes and sherry.

Cooking in the wok is fun.
Cooking in the wok is fun.

There is a little kick to the sauce, so the wine needs to be substantial enough to stand up the the spice and the crispy vegetables. The Clos du Bois was a nice choice. The fresh fruit, crisp acidity and buttery overtones blended well with the shrimp and spice.

The wine also would match well with fish prepared in lemon butter, pasta in a cream sauce or many chicken dishes.

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