UN­CORKED

Chardon­nay re­mains trusted, steady standby

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - LORRI HAM­BUCHEN un­corked@thewine­cen­ter.com

Many of us have a long off-again, on-again love af­fair with chardon­nay. It was once the only white wine we con­sid­ered. We then shunned it for other trend­ing white va­ri­etals but in­evitably we’d come back to chardon­nay.

Napa Val­ley’s Flora Springs Win­ery has stayed strong to its ded­i­ca­tion and long love af­fair with chardon­nay.

Flora Springs was one of the first winer­ies I vis­ited dur­ing my first trip to Napa Val­ley more than 15 years ago. I was hon­ored with a oneon-one tour, learn­ing more about this 39-year-old icon. The es­tate’s his­tory dates to the 1880s when Scot­tish im­mi­grant broth­ers James and Wil­liam Ren­nie planted 60 acres and built a stone wine cel­lar.

Call­ing Flora Springs Win­ery a fam­ily ven­ture may be an un­der­state­ment. Jerry and Flora Komes bought the es­tate in 1977. A year later, their chil­dren John and Car­rie Komes and Julie and Pat Gar­vey es­tab­lished the win­ery and named it af­ter John and Julie’s mother, Flora. Since its in­cep­tion, al­most ev­ery job — from pro­pri­etor and vine­yard man­ager to gen­eral man­ager — has been helmed by a fam­ily mem­ber.

The char­ac­ter of its chardon­nay has evolved over the years with many new in­tro­duc­tions to wine­mak­ing and the world’s palate shift­ing in styles that in­volve a mix of stain­less steel, oak bar­rels, con­crete tanks, mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion and lees stir­ring.

This past week I re-vis­ited this chardon­nay and once again rel­ished in its splen­dor. It still of­fers ev­ery­thing we love in a chardon­nay — bright min­er­al­ity, re­fresh­ing fruit fla­vors and a sim­ple bal­anced touch of oak.

Flora Springs’ Fam­ily Select Chardon­nay is sourced en­tirely from the fam­ily’s sus­tain­ably farmed, es­ta­te­owned vine­yards in Oakville and Carneros. It’s rare to find chardon­nay in Oakville, but a few blocks in its Cross­roads Vine­yard of­fers a slightly cooler mi­cro­cli­mate ideal to the va­ri­etal.

The Flora’s Legacy Chardon­nay is a lim­ited-pro­duc­tion, one of a kind wine made in honor of Flora Komes. Ev­ery year this pro­duc­tion in­volves the en­tire fam­ily, us­ing the finest bar­rels of chardon­nay in their cel­lar and grad­u­ally nar­row­ing it down to a blend of the few bar­rels the fam­ily en­joys the most.

I hope a taste of these chardon­nays brings you back to why you fell in love with it so many years ago.

THE VALUE

2016 Flora Springs Fam­ily Select Chardon­nay, Cal­i­for­nia (about $35 re­tail)

THE SPLURGE

2016 Flora’s Legacy Chardon­nay, Cal­i­for­nia (about $70 re­tail)

Lorri Ham­buchen is a mem­ber of Lon­don’s In­sti­tute of Wines and Spir­its. Con­tact her at the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Lit­tle Rock, Ark. 72203, or email:

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