The 4th of July weekend is coming and with it warm weather and outside dining either at home or away, either way it is a safe bet you will be outside for part of the weekend and that calls for a wine that is flavorful but won’t leave you feeling “heavy” after drinking. If that fits your future plans then consider the 2012 Chardonnay from 14 Hands Winery in Washington State.
The light gold color in the glass provides a clue that this is not a heavily oaked or buttery Chardonnay. This is a light and somewhat subtle wine in bouquet and palate; the nose is an apple and pear combination typical of many Chardonnay wines sourced from Washington State grown grapes. That fruit pairing continues seamlessly into the flavor matching the apple-pear nose with hints of caramel and spice from oak at the end. Chilled the oak impact seems minimal, but as the wine warms the spice, caramel and some vanilla flavors become more noticeable in the finish. The overall effect is a pleasant and easy drinking beverage that doesn’t require a lot of effort to appreciate, but also yields interesting flavors for those who want to take the time to draw them out through the senses. For those who drink tea the comparison between the 14 Hands Chardonnay and the bulk of value priced Chardonnay in the market would be a white tea versus a black tea. 14 Hands has a delicacy that some may mistake as weak and flavorless, however, for those who don’t always like a frontal assault of flavor in their nose and mouth that “weakness” is an appreciated attribute.
As a standalone wine this is a good hot weather choice, chill it well and let the flavor develop as it warms. For those who want some meal suggestions avoid heavier meats and fish. I would suggest salads, veggie sandwiches or for a more substantial meal catfish, tilapia, flounder or trout would work well, we had shellfish and I liked the contrast between the weight of the wine and the somewhat heavier shrimp and scallop dish. Experiment or take your traditional picnic basket foods with you to the fireworks, this wine will fit many places in your weekend.
Unlike the 14 Hands Red Blend “Hot to Trot” or their Merlot the Chardonnay is not as widely available in our local stores. I have spotted it at various times in the grocery store selections, but found it for a great price of under $10, compared to a $12 suggested list price, at the Total Wine and More store in Fort Myers. Even if your tastes run to the heavier oaky and smoky Chardonnay at that price this is worthwhile pickup for a warm evening on the lanai or day at the beach.