Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: HandCraft Chardonnay 2011, California

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COST: $11-13

WHAT: One of the things that keeps the wine industry so interesting is that there is always something new. You don’t have to drink the same thing every day.

HandCraft is a new brand started by a family that has been growing grapes in California for nearly 90 years. Cheryl Indelicato became interested in the wine business as a child, but education, work and raising a family took her away from it for many years.

She returned to the family wine business – DFV Wines – in 1990, and in 2010 teamed with veteran winemaker Alicia Ysais to create HandCraft Artisan Collection, California wines with a touch of Italian heritage.

The Chardonnay is a fantastic wine, especially at this price. It’s bright and refreshing, with lots of fruit. It starts with floral aromas with touches of lemon and green apple. The taste has hints of peach, honey, citrus with a creamy mouthfeel. It is a medium-bodied wine with good acid.

The wine is primarily Chardonnay, with a small amount of other white aromatics and a dash of Malvasia Bianca. It was aged four to six months, 50 percent in oak and 50 percent in stainless steel. I think the stainless steel gives it a bright crispness you don’t often find in Chardonnay at this price. Serve the wine well chilled.

WINERY: Gaspare Indelicato moved to California from Italy and planted his first vines for the Delicato Family Vineyards in 1924. He started making his own wines in 1935.

As the business grew, Gaspare’s three sons joined the business, and now the third generation of the family is active. The family says it is dedicated to environmentally sensitive and economically sustainable business practices.

The winery harvests grapes from Napa, Lodi, Monterey and Sonoma to craft wines that express the diversity of these appellations. Their brands include Gnarly Head, Delicato, Twisted, Bota Box, Black Stallion, Loredona, Massimo, Brazin, Domino, Fog Head and Irony.

Besides the Chardonnay, HandCraft also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Noir and a Petite Sirah, all priced at about $12.

They have a tasting room in Manteca, Calif., about one hour south of San Francisco.

GOES WITH: During the holidays when things get rushed, it’s nice to have some easy-to-fix dishes you know will be good. One of those for me is chicken supreme. I got the basic recipe from my neighbor Jack when I was fresh out of graduate school.

Jack and I and our wives would gather in one of our apartments on Friday nights and listen to rock ’n’ roll records while eating dinner and sipping a beer or two. One night he slipped in a couple of opera records and started my addiction to the art form I didn’t expect to like.

He also showed me how to make a quick elegant meal. Take a couple of boneless chicken breasts dusted with flour, brown in butter and olive oil, saute chopped onions, add cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup and cream and cook for a few minutes until the chicken is tender.

Later I added some white wine and thyme to the recipe. You can serve it over pasta, or rice, or by itself. It makes for a tasty meal, and it was perfectly matched to this Chardonnay.

The HandCraft also would go well with light fish or shellfish, salads, grilled chicken or mild cheeses.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, JAN. 3
Wine and tapas tasting,
5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

FRIDAY, JAN. 4
Wine and beer tasting,
4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites, three reds; $5 with $3 rebate on a featured wine; (803) 279-9522

SATURDAY, JAN. 5
Wine and beer tasting,
2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market; (706) 922-9463

MONDAY, JAN. 7
Wine tasting,
5:30-7:30 p.m., Ninth Street Wine Market, 12 Ninth St.; $10; reservations, (706) 724-1442

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 9
Wine tasting,
6-7:30 p.m., Bee’s Knees, 211 10th St.; $15; reservations, (706) 724-1442


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