Family-owned and operated James River Cellars, located just north of Richmond, produces a thoughtful selection of single- varietal and blended wines from vitis vinifera and French-American hybrids farmed in nearby Montpelier, Virginia. Their Reserve Chardonnay is among our favorites, and is a charmer in a couple of respects. First of all, as one of the winery’s distinctive “Civil War Wines” its label features original artwork by graphic artist Adam Rodriguez depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee, astride his beloved horse Traveller, defending a case of wine. A fun little conversation piece in good company. Secondly, it is a well-crafted, reasonably priced, and quite tasty rendition of the variety. The wine opens with pretty aromas of butter, honeysuckle, and lemon zest, and segues to flavors of butterscotch, banana, and toasted biscuit, with just a hint of quince on the finish. It is fresh and pleasing on the palate, striking a deft balance between crisp and creamy and incorporating a flourish of California style into a finessed Virginia Chardonnay. The wine is medium-bodied, with moderate acids and generous, although integrated, oak. This is a friendly and versatile Chardonnay that will complement soft to medium-sharp cheeses, roasted chicken and various poultry dishes, veal scaloppini, crab cakes and crab fare, and cream-based dishes like fettuccine alfredo.
Availability: James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay is available in select wine shops across Virginia and, of course, at the winery. Visit them virtually at www.jamesrivercellars.com for more information or in person in Glen Allen, Virginia. If you find yourself nearby, ring them at 804-550-7516 or simply drop-in to visit and taste.