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Starmont Chardonnay (375ML half-bottle) 2011
Starmont Chardonnay is a golden straw color. Aromas of Asian pear, butter crust apple tart tatin, juicy golden pineapple, guava, Meyer Lemon, orange blossom, honeysuckle, hints of toasted hazelnut. A sweet focused entry opens to a fleshy, round, and bright mid-palate, notes of citrus, cream filled profiteroles with spun sugar, and a clean mineral driven finish.
The Starmont story began over 25 years ago, starting as an integral part of the Merryvale brand. Led by the Starmont Chardonnay and delivering high quality Carneros and Napa Valley wines at approachable prices, Starmont complemented the more mature Merryvale portfolio. For a decade and a half, these two brands shared space at our venerable St. Helena facility. It was a perfect partnership, but as Starmont grew from a single wine into a full-fledged brand, it became time to move out.
Opportunity to find a new home was realized in 2005. Starmont acquired 50 acres of prime Carneros vineyard, a portion of the Stanly Ranch Estate first planted in 1872, and broke ground on the new winery the same year. Honoring the heritage of the vineyard, Starmont has constructed a state-of-the-art “green” winery. Among other steps taken towards sustainability, the Starmont Winery recycles 100% of winery process water, diverts over 98% of waste away from ending up in a landfill and generates enough electricity each day to power over 250 homes. In creating a certified Napa Green Winery, Starmont ensures that the surrounding area will remain pristine for future generations to enjoy.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.