Wine Find: 2009 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay

From: Napa Valley, Calif.

Price: $45-$50

Serve with: Salmon, chicken in buttery sauce

Sorry, budget buyers, this one is for the splurgers. Chateau Montelena Chardonnay is a consistent American classic — the wine that outshone the best of France back in 1976 and still stellar today. It's one of the few American chardonnays that can age a decade. This vintage is superbly balanced and complex, with a perfect marriage of fruit and oak. The flavors are no surprise — lemon, apple, vanilla, nuts — but the absolute harmony is always impressive. Even a chardo-skeptic has to bow reverently before this monument to the heights this oft-abused grape can achieve in the right vineyard and expert hands.

Michael Dresser

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