The weather has finally begun to get really, really hot here in Chicago, so in typical fashion I find myself turning more and more towards white wine this time of year. I haven’t featured a white wine yet in 2010, and I figured that it was long overdue. I just returned from a (way too short) trip out to Napa and Sonoma Valley and tasted as much wine as I could (more on that coming soon!) While in the Sonoma area, I found myself at one of my very favorite tasting rooms, Landmark Vineyards. If you are ever in the region, I consider Landmark to be a can’t miss stop on your tasting tour. It simply has everything that you could ever want in a winery stop, including friendly, informative hospitality behind the counter, gorgeous scenery that is pulled together by a fountain (below), plenty of tables for a mid-day picnic, and most importantly, killer wines. What actually makes Landmark’s wines so impressive is their across the board quality over so many different varietals, and their approachable price points. The winery produced a $30 bottle of Syrah in 2006 called Steel Plow that I will never forget, and continues to do a great job with that wine, and also succeeds admirably with Grenache, while also producing some of the most stunning Pinot Noir in the Sonoma Valley. Still, the house claims to specialize in Chardonnay, and on that front they perform just as well, producing several examples that all show off different characteristics of their terroir and offer something for everyone. This widely available and affordable offering from Landmark demonstrates a crisp, fruity style of Chardonnay that isn’t overly oaked and should be a perfect match for your picnic on those warm summer days ahead. Cheers!

LANDMARK CHARDONNAY OVERLOOK SONOMA-SANTA BARBARA-MONTEREY COUNTIES 2007, 90 Points, $30, 18,000 Cases Produced- Lots of toasty almond and pear citrus on the nose. Green apple and lemon-lime flavors combine on the crisp palate with vibrant acidity and understated oak notes. This is really all about the fruit and not tart at all through the long finish.

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