LaurellakesChilean wines are hot right now both because of their quality and their value. Personally, I think that on the bottom end of the price scale (under $10) Chilean wine is often the way to go.

Laurel Lake Vineyards, in Laurel, New York, has brought Chilean winemaking talent and experience to our Bordeaux-esque microclimate…and the results are quite good.

Purchased by Chilean investors in 1999, Laurel Lakes is delievering  well-crafted and resonably priced wines to a New York market often filled with over-priced bottles.

While not as well known as some of the over-hyped, marketing-crazed Long Island wineries, Laurel Lakes’ owners definitely know their wine.

Francisco Gillmore is the proprietor of Vina Gillmore Estate in the Maule region of Chile. Juan Esteban Sepulveda is the director of Vinos del Sur (another Maule winery) and Alejandro Parot is a wine producer as well.

Laurel Lakes also features some of the oldest vines on the Island, planted in 1980 (remember that the first vines were planted here in 1973). These older vines definitely add to the character of the wine.

I’m scheduling a tour and tasting with winemaker Claudio Zamorano for early this spring…and it’s certainly something I look forward to. His ice wine is absolutely succulent and this Chardonnay was a nice find too.

Eyes: Medium-light gold color. Deeper than I expected given it’s no-oak creation.

Nose: Sweet pear with pineapples and citrus notes. Very nice. Impressive at this price.

Tongue: Not a serious, complex Chardonnay, but extremely charming in it’s own right. The pineapple flavors are rich but not heavy and there’s a lemon zesty zing at the end that Nena and I both enjoyed. Light on the acidity but very drinkable and inviting with a respectably long finish even.

Price: $11

Overall: For the money, this is a top two or three Chardonnay from Long Island. Hints of minerals or a bit more acidity would have really made this something special. But, for $11 bucks, it’s a good pour.

Food: I served this along side grilled chicken breasts with plum salsa. The plums may have been a touch under-ripe for salsa making, so it was good that the wine wasn’t too high in acidity. It’s softness curbed the acidity of the plums nicely and the fruitiness of the wine really came through.

Lenn’s Grade: B

Nena’s Grade: B