Pali Chardonnay with cheese, crackers and sausage.
Pali Chardonnay with cheese, crackers and sausage.

Pali Charm Acres Chardonnay 2011, Sonoma Coast

Cost: $20-22

What: I have tasted several wonderful Pali wines over the last couple of years, so I was expecting big things when I cracked open the screw cap. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Charm Acres Chardonnay is medium straw in color.  Pungent aromas of lemon and pear pour out of the glass before you start drinking. There also is some spiciness going on in the aroma, making it even more intriguing.

The wine is fermented in oak, so I wasn’t expecting the minerality that appeared with flavors of apple, lemon, lime and pear. The flavors were rich and intense, with a lot of complexity. The bright and lively flavors lead to a long finish.

Pali Charm Acres Chardonnay
Pali Charm Acres Chardonnay

There was no malolactic fermentation, which probably helped the wine lean toward minerals and away from buttery. The wine spent 8 months in barrels, 75% neutral French oak, 25% new French oak.

This will be an ideal wine for summer sipping, either with dinner or as an aperitif. Serve it well chilled.

Winery: Founders Tim Perr and Scott Knight are best known for the many artisan Pinot Noirs they produce, but their Chardonnay also is outstanding.

After building a successful actuarial and insurance services firm, they founded the winery in 2005, naming it after their hometown of Pacific Palisades, just west of Los Angeles. Their “cuvee” series is defined by the appellation of origin and named for Pacific Palisades neighborhoods. They also have small amounts of vineyard-designate wines.

The winery and a tasting room are located in Lompoc, Calif. Another tasting room is located in downtown Santa Barbara. The winery produces a line of less expensive wines under the Tower 15 label, which focuses on Cabernet Franc/Merlot, Barbera, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Grenache Blanc and a Rose.

All the wines except the Proprietors’ Reserve and large format bottles come with screw caps.

Pali Chardonnay was a good aperitif.
Pali Chardonnay was a good aperitif.

Goes with: My wife Teri and I and some friends had this as an aperitif before dinner, with cheese and crackers, sausage and nuts. It is a very refreshing before dinner drink, leaving your mouth with a bright, lively taste. It’s a clean-tasting wine, with firm acidity, so it is ideal as an aperitif.

It also would pair well with light seafood, such as steamed shrimp, broiled or pan-friend flounder, or fish and chips.

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