Baseball’s playoffs require players to up their game if they want to reach the World Series–and autumn menus demand the same, so draft the Napa Valley 2011 Plumpjack Reserve Chardonnay.
Plumpjack Winery is owned by an investment group led by Gordon Getty, the son of oil baron J.Paul Getty Sr., and Gavin Newsome, San Francisco’s former mayor and currently California’s lieutenant governor. Formerly known as Villa Mt. Eden, they purchased the Napa Valley property in 1995 and upgraded the winery and replanted the vineyards.
Plumpjack is rightly respected for its cabernet sauvignon, which originates at its 42-acre Oakville estate. And it gained notoriety for putting its wines in screw caps when other producers held back for fear it would send the wrong message for their upscale wines.
Knowledgeable wine consumers know that screw caps are a leap forward in the endless quest to have fresh and flavorful wines. More than a decade ago, New Zealand wineries led the way with screw cap closures on nearly all wines and other New World wineries followed. But California producers resisted the change for wines north of $20, even though they knew it would eliminate the problem of “corked” wine (when a tainted cork damages the wine’s natural fruit aromas and flavors). Plumpjack feared not the image of a screw cap bottle, but the spoilage of its wines.
Plumpjack’s Oakville vineyards are dedicated to red wine varietals and sauvignon blanc. Its sources chardonnay grapes from Pat Garvey’s P&J vineyard in Saint Helena and Andy Becktoffer’s Carneros Lake vineyard in Carneros. Winemaker Aaron Miller fermented 40 percent of the grapes in new French oak barrels and 60 percent in stainless steel tanks. Thankfully, he inhibited malolatic fermentation the secondary process that changes the wine’s natural apple-like acidity to a lactic or creamy-textured acidity.
The pure white 2011 Plumpjack Reserve Chardonnay billows jasmine and apple blossom aromas. Its intense pear and vanilla flavors would normally be one more example of an excessive California chardonnay, but Miller wisely preserved the natural acidity which refreshes the palate after the bold flavors. The 2011 Plumpjack Reserve Chardonnay has all the power of league-leading home run hitter.
Serve this full-bodied wine with seared scallops and a mango-cucumber salsa, or sautéed sweetbreads with capers, or a pork shoulder braised in apple cider. Your guests will tell you the combination is a game winner.
The 2011 Plumpjack Reserve Chardonnay Napa Valley retails for approximately $48.