Veramonte Chardonnay

Cost: $11-13

What: When you find a wine you like it’s a good idea to write it down and keep a list of favorite wines. If you are like me that list gets long.

The Veramonte Chardonnay is on my list, but I had not opened a bottle in a few years, so I was eager to try it again. If anything, the wine was even better than I remembered it. And at about $12 a bottle it is a great bargain.

My wife Teri and I sometimes try to forget about the price of the wine and then try to guess it when we drink it. I think our lowest guess on this wine came in at $20.

It’s a bright, smooth wine, with some good weight. It is a not a wimpy wine, and can hold it’s own with a great meal. The wine is made from 100 percent Chardonnay grapes, grown organically in the Casablanca Valley of Chile.

They are whole cluster pressed to obtain structure from the stems. After the juice settles for 24 hours it is racked off. Part of the wine is barrel fermented in neutral oak with wild yeasts, and spends eight months in neutral oak. The rest ferments in stainless steel. About 30 percent of the wine undergoes spontaneous malolactic fermentation, which makes is smoother and creamier while retaining the freshness of Chardonnay.

It is a pretty, pale yellow in the glass, with expressive aromas of pear and lemon curd and some toasty oak notes. On the palate, I picked up bright lemon and pear with a rich mouthfeel leading to a long, smooth finish.

The winery recommends serving it at 53 degrees, and it is delicious cold, but you get a bit more flavor as it warms up in the glass.

It is a great food wine, but it will be a delicious sipper after work on the porch or on a picnic. This is a wonderful summer wine.

Winery: In 1990 Agustin Huneeus found a large tract of land in Chile’s Casablanca Valley that he thought would be perfect for a winery, so he bought it. The first Veramonte wine was sold in 1996.

A state-of-the-art winery was built in 1998 and offers popular tours. The wines have won many awards for Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Primus, a rich, spicy blend of Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wines have a well-deserved reputation for outstanding wines at good prices.

Veramonte is one of the largest contiguous vineyards in Chile with more than 1,100 acres of grapevines. The vineyard is surrounded by 10,000 acres of natural, unplanted greenbelt that is habitat to native plants and animals, and a natural lagoon that is home to more than two dozen species of migrating birds.

The winery includes the latest technology in bottling lines, gravity-fed fermentors and ultra-modern stainless steel tanks. It is also designed for small-lot winemaking, allowing separate fermentation and aging of individual vineyard blocks and experimental vineyardsineyard plots.

Goes with: We had this gorgeous wine with homemade chicken nachos with a side of refried bean dip. It was a great pairing.

Most times when I’m having Latin food I think of beef or a red wine. But I thought this Chardonnay had enough body it could hold it’s own with this spicy food. It did just that.

The nachos had big hunks of chicken breast, with salsa, tomatoes and corn chips. After we put some on our plates, we added more salsa, and chopped tomatoes and lettuce. I would have added diced green onions, but I didn’t have any in the fridge.

The bean dip was covered in shredded cheese (part Mexican mix, part cheddar) and then heated in the oven until the cheese melted. It was tasty with corn chips.

The wine also would pair well with seafood, chicken salad and grilled chicken.

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