In short, too much winemaking gets in the way of the wine. For whatever reason, New World chardonnay producers, who work with some of the best fruit in the history of winemaking, are terrified of letting the grapes be the highlight of the wine.
That is not the case for Oregon's Adelsheim ($22, sample). Quite simply, it is one of the best New World chardonnays I have ever tasted -- rich and just enough oak to make it chardonnay, but not too much "technique" to get in the way of the green apple fruit. And, at 13 percent alcohol, it's lower than some sweet rieslings I've had.
The Adelsheim is a steal at this price. And the more expensive Caitlin's Reserve Chardonnay ($40, sample) was an even more sophisticated and subtle wine (think of a fine Chablis, but with New World fruitiness). Availability, however, is limited.
Drink the Adelsheim on its own, or with any classic chardonnay dinner -- chicken in cream sauce or Dover sole, for instance. And be glad that Adelsheim winemaker Dave Paige took the time and effort to make this the right way.