By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Randall Murray: Finding a buttery Chardonnay
Placeholder Image

Rotari Rose 2013
The wine: Crisp, dry sparkling table wine
The grapes: 75 precent pinot noir and 25 percent chardonnay
The source: Italy
The verdict: Rotari makes some wonderful Champagne-style bubblies. And now this well-respected producer is vintage dating them. Not only is this sprightly sparkler lovely to look at, with its soft pink hue and columns of tiny bubbles, it is also lovely to drink. What makes this wine so huggable is it goes well with just about any kind of food — red meat, seafood, poultry and veggie meals. Quite an array of light fruit flavors swirl around in the Rotari Rose. When you gently extract the cork, pour carefully into a tall, thin flute glass ... and just look at it for a minute. Make sure it is thoroughly chilled before serving, about 6-8 hours in the fridge. Then get ready for a sparkling treat
The price: About $20

Yep, we’re in the dog days of summer. Soon, however, we’ll be in the Dawg Days of fall and all will be well with the world.

We hope.

I’ve hoarded a batch of questions I’ve received over the past few months from readers. And this seems like a great time to respond in this column.

I enjoy hearing from readers and hope you will contact me if you have any questions about wines in this column or wine in general. My email address is at the bottom of the column.

I respond right away to inquiries, but ask the reader if I may use her/his question in a future column.

Question: I’m looking for a Chardonnay that is buttery but not too oaky. Any suggestions?

Answer: Chardonnay is one of those wines with lots of complexity, at least in the good ones.

One characteristic is one of viscosity, rather than taste. A good chard seems to have a heavier, viscous feel in the mouth. Some equate that to a buttery texture. Another aroma trait comes from the oak that’s used for fermenting and/or aging the wine. That is the faint whiff of vanilla. There’s also an

easy-to-discern smell and taste of fresh wood. Here are five I would recommend for the combination you are seeking.

Sequoia Grove, Gary Farrell and Artesa are from California and a tad pricey at $30-$50, but awfully good. Trivento Amado Sur is from Argentina and around $15. The one I feel most comfortable with is Frei Brothers from Sonoma County, at about $20.

(Note: This reader responded later saying she was quite happy with the Frei Brothers wine.)

Q: How long can you store leftover wine, and what’s the best way to store it?

A: Unfamiliar term here: “leftover wine.” We seldom encounter that situation at Chez Murray.

Let’s deal with the second part of the question first. There are two “best ways” to store leftover wine.

The first is to spray a layer of inert gas over the surface of the wine and cork it. There are tanks of such wine keepers available commercially. When you pick them up, the tanks feel empty. But there really is gas inside. It will not harm the wine and keeps the air away from it.

The other method is to use a vacuum pump. This pulls most of the air from the bottle, which delays spoilage due to exposure to the air.

Either of these methods will keep the wine relatively unspoiled for a week or so, if you store the bottle away from heat, light and vibrations.

Less effective is stopping up the bottle with a wedge-shaped closer. That keeps air from getting in, but does nothing about the air already in the bottle.

If the bottle has a screw cap, that’s good, too. But, again, there’s air in the bottle.

Least effective is putting the old cork back in. Remember, there’s a tiny hole where the corkscrew went through, and air will get in.

Those last few methods will keep wine — red, white or rose — relatively sound for a couple of days.

Q: I’m curious to know where you get the wines you write about. Do you buy them or are they provided to you by wineries?

A: Great question! I buy some of the wines I cite. And just about all of those are to be found within 30 miles of Gainesville. (I hate to leave my ZIP code.)

Others are provided by wineries, distributors or public relations/marketing companies as samples. I make it very clear to them that accepting samples does not obligate me to write anything good about the wine if I find it less than satisfactory or anything at all, for that matter. I’ve had a few folks revoke the offer with those conditions attached.

Another condition I attach is the wines must be available in Georgia. I hate writing about wines my readers will never see, unless they hike off to Sonoma County or Tuscany. Not all these wines will be found in Hall County or thereabouts. But you may have noticed a large metropolitan area is to our southwest.


Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on