Greetings and Salutations! As the vast majority of the country is in some stage of quarantine (in Dallas, we call it “Shelter in Place”), it seems that we wine sleuths need to have good information for quality Value Wines more than ever. Otherwise, or so I am told, one is liable to end up cracking open in frustration a prized bottle of Kistler Chardonnay or that favorite Nuits St. Georges Red Burgundy on a Tuesday night! So while we remain in quarantine or semi-quarantine, your humble Wine Bargain Sleuth plans on introducing a regular series or both Value Wines and Worth a Splurge wines to keep my favorite folks from making poor financial decisions while still having high quality libations at your fingertips! That’s a win-win!

And since spring has sprung, let’s start off this series with a terrific California Chardonnay Value Wine: Olema Chardonnay Sonoma County 2018 made by Amici Cellars. Widely available (I have found ample supply at my local Total Wines for $15. This Olema Chard has overtones of nectarine and green apple with a hint of vanilla. Not overly oaked or buttery, the Olema Chardonnay Sonoma County 2018 has nice, bright fruit and acidity which will complement seafood, pasta with a cream sauce and even grilled chicken. Despite its modest retail price, the Olema offering is suitable to offer and serve up to fellow wine enthusiasts. As an example, I served this Chardonnay to clients for a holiday party and to a non-profit group as an example of how great wines don’t have to cost a fortune, in both cases to rousing accolades. The experts, you ask? James Suckling laid an impressive 92 rating on this California Chard, opining: “This is a really delicious offering of dried peaches and pineapple with cream and light vanilla undertones. Medium to full body. Lovely praline undertone to it. Bright and fruity.” Since none of us know how long we are to be quarantined, I highly recommend a purchase of stash of the Olema Chardonnay Sonoma County 2018! Let’s face it, it’s a hell of lot more fun than hoarding toilet tissue!