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Column: A delicious wine duo from California and Chile

Many recipes pair well with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Chardonnay and Cabernet wines
A Chardonnay to pour when dining on seared scallops and a Cabernet to pair with Asian BBQ lamb ribs.

Today we stick our nose and tongue into a really good white wine. It’s so good, they’ve incorporated it into the name: Murphy Goode Chardonnay ($19.99)!  Located in Sonoma, California, this winery is part of the Jackson Family wine empire, which includes Kendall Jackson.

The label gives you a big hint on what to expect: “ripe apple, lemon curd, vanilla.”  But describing a wine is a very subjective exercise. Experience can certainly help you identify more aromas and flavours than when you first start appreciating wine. The bottom line is, “Do you like it?”  And picking descriptors for the smells and flavours is very personal. It’s what you experience rather than whether you are right or wrong.

On the nose I identified tropical fruit, citrus, toasty oak and coconut. When I tasted this golden Chardonnay there was ripe pineapple and lemon zest, butterscotch from the minimal barrel fermentation, and a hint of spice like nutmeg. It's a well-balanced wine with the fruit and the other properties in harmony, a refreshing amount of acid and a long mango finish. Here’s a Chardonnay that works as a sipper as well as a great pairing for seared scallops.

If Chardonnay is the most popular white wine, then Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red. And a delicious one to enjoy is the Montes 2018 Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon ($23.99) from the Colchagua Valley in central Chile. It’s one of South America’s most promising wine regions, famous for reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carmenere. The valley boasts a textbook wine-growing climate: warm, but cooled by ocean breezes and dry, but refreshed by rivers and occasional rainfall

Montes was founded in 1987 and its mission was to produce premium wines that were a step above what Chile was producing at the time. As a result, the influential Wine Spectator Magazine has regularly given Montes Alpha wines “Top Scoring” and “Best Value” honours.

Although the Montes red is labelled Cabernet Sauvignon and does have 90-per-cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 per cent of the wine is Merlot. With the addition of Merlot, the wine has softer tannins and is ready for enjoying earlier, and is more complex in the nose and on the palate.

The nose revealed a generous aroma of black fruit, spice and a toasty oak. Tasting the wine I enjoyed the ripe cassis, blackberry, and boysenberry, along with earthy tones and spicy notes. The tannins were smooth and refined. Delicious to drink now, it will age for at least another five years.

Visit the Wine Enthusiast's website for recipes to pair with Cabarnet Sauvignon. The list includes Asian barbecue lamb ribs, beef tagliata, arugula and trevisana salad, or roasted duck breast with pecan purée.

Both of today’s wines are widely available at government liquor stores in Richmond and throughout Metro Vancouver.