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2001 Cinnabar Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains

Cinnabar has been around since 1983, when owner Tom Mudd, a scientist and researcher, decided to take his interest in grapes to a new level. For many years, this little winery that sits high in the Santa Cruz Mountians near Saratoga was a well kept local secret, but with its recent vintages it has garnered widespread acclaim for producing wines that are both high quality and great values.

Named after the mineral that contains murcury and was prized by medieval alchemists, Cinnabar strives for modern day alchemy in the transformation of its land and fruit into something extraordinary. Tom and his winemaker George Troquato have indeed managed to create gold, and this wine is a shining example of it.

I've been drinking Cinnabars wines for a while, primarily their Murcury Rising red blend, which is one of the best values in California wines, in my opinion. I was excited to try their estate Chard, hoping for a similar ratio of quality and price, and was not disappointed. This tastes like Chardonnays that sell for twice its price.

Tasting Notes:
A pale golden yellow, this wine has a wonderful floral nose of honey and roses with a splash of grapefruit, and a hint of oak. On the palate it is crisp, with a nice balance of acidity and sweetness, and contains flavors of pears, citrus zest, and light cream. The wine has a beautifully clean, long finish.

Food Pairing:
The lightness of the oak in this wine and its crisp fruit make it a good all around food Chardonnay, and one that has the flexibility to accompany a wider range of foods including Asian. I had this one with some pork and shrimp wontons in a spicy ginger sesame sauce.

Overall Score: 8.5/9

How Much?: $25

You can purchase this wine directly from the winery's Web site.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud