Wine buffs on the prowl for a Burgundian-style Chardonnay made in California may have long lost hope of finding a bottle for less than $70. You can pretty much forget Napa and Sonoma. But the Santa Cruz Mountains, where winemaking goes back to the 1860s, still has a few jewels. Mount Eden's Estate Chardonnay, from a mountain vineyard first planted in the 1940s, is one of them.
Minerally and crisp, the 2004 comes on strong with delicious, focused fruit, a light touch of oak and a finish that positively loiters. Its tightly knit structure and superb balance mean this is one Chardonnay that drinks well with food. Shellfish are a natural -- oysters, shrimp, steamed mussels -- but also Dungeness crab, wild salmon and anything else that swims.
Region: Santa Cruz Mountains
Price: About $35
Food it goes with: Shellfish, Dungeness crab, wild salmon, fish in sauce.
Where you find it: Available at fine wine shops and retailers.
-- S. Irene Virbila