Chardonnay changes location to location, year to year. But its popularity stays constant - the name is almost synonymous with "a glass of white wine," even in the era of ever-present pinot grigio.
In anticipation of the Fourth of July, you can buy American and enjoy some terrific chardonnay, in many styles.
The 2008 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay ($48) is a single-vineyard California dream, elegant and balanced, full of fruit and spice, with a hint of melon, a note of apricot, a minerally accent, a lot of rich flavor.
Fresh and lively, the 2008 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($29) delivers generous fruit and fine acidity. Shaded in straw-green, it evokes green apple plus pear - a very food-friendly wine.
From Monterey County comes the very fruity 2008 Carmel Road Chardonnay Monterey ($18). The versatile wine can be enjoyed with fare ranging from fried clams and broiled scrod to pork chops and pasta with pesto.
Vanilla and lemon highlight the lush, creamy 2008 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay ($35), a round, ripe production that calls for lobster. The 2008 Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay ($16), crisp and rife with tropical fruit.
Long Island's Wine of the Week
In time for summer's arrival: the 2009 Wölffer Classic White ($16). This is an easygoing, refreshing blend of riesling, chardonnay and gewürztraminer from the consistently first-rate Sagaponack winery. Try it with spicy Asian dishes, shellfish cocktails, seviche, maybe while wearing a bathing suit.