A Hidden Gem

February 21, 2014
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By Nicholas Harary

When it comes to buying the very best Chardonnays from California, if you’ve got unlimited funds and a subscription to Parker, you’re 99 percent of the way there.

It’s not a foolproof system, but if you can spend whatever and stick to the high ‘90s, you’ve got a decent shot to find something great. In this upper atmosphere of blue-chip California producers, the scores and the price tags are sky high. You don’t need me to help you find these. Where I can help is finding the 1 percent of producers that are the hidden gems, the blue chippers that fly under the radar of both the market and the critics.

In the case of Benovia, they are the actual source of several blue-chip, highly rated wines, made by guys like Williams Seylem and Kosta Browne, who depend on purchased Benovia fruit to be the backbone of some of their best wines.

Regardless of the product, I always like going to the source and when you calculate the difference in the price, well, it’s a no-brainer. Kosta Browne Russian River Chardonnay 2011, if you can find it, is around $100 per bottle. Williams Selyem, around $70. Benovia? How about $36? Home run.

Benovia Russian River Chardonnay 2011 is a classic. The nose is great with aromas of lemon custard and hazelnut touched by just the right amount of ginger and vanilla. In the mouth, the wine is rich but bright, with a finish that is fresh and long. It’s the perfect compliment to lobster or scallop dishes, sweet corn risotto or any cream sauce.

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The catch, and there is always a catch with wines like these, is the quantity. Production in 2011 was very short, we’ve only got a few cases to sell. Go to the source: buy an American blue-chip Chardonnay at a sharp price.

Log onto www.nicholaswines.com for more information.

Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.

In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store (www.restaurantnicholas.com). Chef Harary’s long- lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.


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