Kongsgaard 2005 Chardonnay

The relationship between quality and price in the wine world is tenuous at best. There are plenty of expensive wines that are merely stylistically different (or, for that matter, identical) than their much less expensive siblings. And in spite of my sometimes irrational love for all American and Australian wines, they are as guilty of this as any wine producing region in the world. But occasionally there comes an expensive wine that is worth the money, and the Kongsgaard we drank on New Year’s Eve was absolutely worth its hefty price tag.

I chilled it, because my lovely but stubborn wife believes that all wine should be drunk as close to its freezing point as possible. And even as a wine slushy this gem was lovely, with a beautiful nose of delicate fruit, a hint of caramel, and a barely discernible aroma that I couldn’t identify but would consider “chemically,” and its only flaw. That quickly disappeared as the wine warmed, and we were left with a breathtaking example of the best of Napa Valley. That warming was vital, because the depth of flavor, complexity and intensity appeared only as the wine reached an appropriate temperature.

The grapes are from two well-known vineyards in the Carneros region of southern Napa, and while I do not have the palate to identify their characteristics, I have drunk wines from both the Hudson and Hyde vineyards, and I heartily approve!

What impressed me the most about this wine was the depth and length of its nose. But it wasn’t overwhelming in any way, just filled with beautiful and subtle aromas that lasted far longer than I expected. Everything was in balance, and as it warmed the flavors become more pronounced without becoming just another California fruit bomb.

I bought this wine from the winery’s mailing list, which is becoming a more common way of buying many of the higher-end wines from California. It is available at a few wine stores, but at a significant mark-up to the original price.

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