By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Bedell-10-chardI appreciate the direction that winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich is taking the white wine program at Bedell Cellars.

I’ve now tasted a handful of his 2010 wines — his first vintage at Bedell — and a few things are clear. First, there is a distinct focus on expressing the vintage over a house style. Second, there is a much more judicious use of new oak.

This Bedell Cellars 2010 Chardonnay ($20) illustrates both points well.

In some previous vintages, there’s been a sameness to the regular chardonnay bottling and the reserve. That sameness was oak — oak that stood out as a major flavor component.

Olsen-Harbich fermented this wine in half in stainless steel and half in neutral oak, all with ambient yeasts — resulting ina transparent rendition of chardonnay that stood out even for someone as typically chardonnay indifferent as I am.

Though dominated by somewhat typical juicy pear and apple aromas the nose also shows intriguing notes of lemon balm, crushed coriander seed and orange peel.

The warmth of the season is captured on the palate, which is medium bodied but still balanced with the tongue tingle of fresh acidity. Flavors of pear, lemon and coriander seed leading into a mid-palate that shows a subtle richness and creaminess without being heavy or flabby. Showing good length, the finish ends with apple peel and seawater.

Tasty enough on its own, this wine elevated — and was elevated by — a dinner of fettuccine alfredo with garlic-sauteed kale the nigh that I tasted it.

Producer: Bedell Cellars
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13%  
Price: $20*

(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

(*Ratings Guide)