An American dream white

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 April, 1999, 12:00am

When you spot the simple elegance of the Clos du Bois label on a wine shop shelf, you know you are safe. This well-established Sonoma winery is a reliable benchmark of quality. Buy this brand, and rest assured you are getting an exceptionally good wine.

I particularly like the barrel-fermented chardonnay. It's everything a Californian white should be. The hue is golden, the aroma is clean and there is a wonderful spectrum of pear, lime and vanilla flavours on the palate.

With a 13.5 per cent alcohol content, this is not something to take lightly. It's definitely a food wine. I had this with a Hungarian pork stew, cooked with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and eggplants. The wine married well with the robust dish.

The 96 now sold at city'super outlets through importers Allied Domecq (fax: 2649-6809) for $218 got off to a good start. The crop was small but of a high quality. Picked at night because daytime temperatures boiled the juices, the wines were fermented in stainless steel to preserve the grape flavour.

Later, it was matured for five to seven months in French and American oak before being blended. This is a common method of producing quality Californian chardonnay. But you have to start with the basics, and that means superior fruit. These grapes came from the Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Russian River appellations, all somewhat dryer and cooler than most Sonoma areas.

This is a lovely wine, as are the merlot and cabernet sauvignon from the same stable.

The sauvignon blanc is a little thin for my taste. Stick to the chardonnay if you want white.