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California Chardonnay as It Should Be

The Flora Springs Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2006 offers the ripe fruit and acidity that is all too rare in New World chards

I seem to spend much of my time wading through endless bottles of mediocre California wines that I sometimes wonder how the place ever got its reputation for fine winemaking. And then, pow! along comes a Saint Paul moment: I run across a winery making some seriously good wine of subtle complexity, elegance, and finesse—a winery like Flora Springs.

I first encountered its Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cab at a tasting last October and ranked it second out of 12 California offerings. Then, at the lunch, I found myself sitting next to Nat Komes, whose family owns Flora Springs. So impressed was I by the way he talked about his family's wines that I decided to take a look at some of their other bottlings and that way discovered their sublime Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2006.

It shows the same magical combination of mineral-intense ripe fruit and crisp green-apple acidity that you find in great Burgundies but that's all too rare in New World chards. It's rich and powerful without even a hint of sticky sweetness despite being fermented in oak and represents the perfect marriage of Californian power with Burgundian elegance. This is chardonnay, or California chardonnay, as it should be.

WOW Rating:

When to Drink: Now

Breathing/Decanting: Opens up and rounds out nicely after 15 minutes

Food Pairing: Chicken, rich fish, and cream sauces.

Grapes: Chardonnay—100%

Appellation: Napa Valley

Region: Napa, Calif.

Country: USA

Price: $29

Availability: Moderate

Web Site:

See more wines at

Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently Artisanal Editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes the Nick Passmore: Wine of the Week column to He is also a judge at the widely respected annual Critics' Challenge wine competition.

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