2012 Laguna Chardonnay Russian River Valley $18
2012 remains a benchmark year in my mind for chardonnay in Northern California. This wine, now solidly four years old, epitomizes why. Refined yet uniquely Californian, this full bodied, statuesque mouthful manages to deliver an elegance unexpected at this price or heft thanks in large part to its defined structure and balanced acidity. The Laguna Ranch vineyard fruit has been used in Gallo's high end chardonnay for years. Bottled under this label it hasn't suffered at all. Very good at $35, great at $18.