“Something about the best laid plans.” Smith-Madrone Chardonnay 2015

Our friends Dave and Andrea, whom we hadn’t seen in almost a year since Dave took a job in Texas, were coming back to town for Christmas. Originally, we planned to have them and many of our mutual friends over to our house for dinner, but an unplanned event and having to leave town in the middle of the week made that implausible. So we changed the plan to have everyone meet at Spaghetti Works in the Old Market, but when I got out of school Thursday afternoon my car, like the roads, was covered in a thin sheet of ice, making the journey for those coming from Lincoln far too perilous. So after I picked up Titus from daycare and returned home, we formulated a new plan.

After some brief deliberation, we planned for Dave and I to walk to Mother India, Omaha’s cult Indian food joint, which is only a few blocks away. Fortunately, Andrea’s food allergies are such that it prompted Dave to call ahead, whereupon a voicemail informed us that we needn’t walk three blocks in the ice and snow, because they’re closed for remodeling. So we altered the plan and called Varsity, where we planned to order pizza. The lady on the phone was so nice, but was concerned about the basketball team that had just put in an order for twenty pizzas. We might not get ours for several hours. I put my hand over the receiver in an antiquated, hyperbolic gesture and mouthed to Dave “We might just starve to death tonight,” and he smiled. Then the woman, having spoken to someone high up in pizza management, told us they’d just make our order first and send it right over. At last, a plan that worked!

Titus ran rampant and Zooey cooed and coughed from her chair while together we set the table and got ready for dinner. Dave and Andrea had brought a beautiful Duckhorn Sauv Blanc as a gift to Sonja (my gift was bottle of peated Texas whiskey aged in Malbec barrels, so I won), but we hadn’t had time to chill it. Sonja was about to toss the Duckhorn in the freezer when I stopped her.

“There’s already a white chilled in the fridge,” I told her.

“Isn’t it a Chardonnay?” she asked, her general dislike of the varietal being well documented in our household.

“Yeah,” I replied casually, “But it’s Smith-Madrone. You’ll like it.”

The pizza arrived shortly thereafter, I pulled the cork on our Chardonnay, and at last we all sat down to feast. The conversation flowed, I ate far too much pizza, and of course, we enjoyed the wine.

The 2015 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay is a combination of Burgundy and Napa Valley, a wine that drinks the way skilled and experienced winemakers intended. I recently reviewed the current vintage of Smith-Madrone Cabernet, 2014, and wrote that it was Pauillac in Napa for it’s low ABV (13.9%), old-world feel, and craftsmanship. High up on Spring Mountain, with roots dating back to 1971, the Smiths do things the way they want to, and make the wine they want to make, and that works fine for me. Tart, underripe green apples and dull lemon rind mingle with creamy, buttery notes and characteristics to become a Chardonnay that is far from the prototypical Napa Valley butter-bomb, yet in my thinking likely to slake the thirst of people who like many different styles of Chardonnay. Dave, Andrea, Sonja, and I enjoyed it, and thought it went nicely with pizza.

After dinner, Dave and Andrea helped me put Titus to bed. I read Fox in Socks and The Lorax to him and we all returned to the living room to finish off the wine and enjoy each other’s company while outside, the snow kept falling. Seeing friends you rarely see is a special occasion, no matter where you are or what you eat, but I thought pairing a nice wine with the evening was appropriate, and this one was more than equal to the task. So what if our plans didn’t work out? Maybe we should have planned on pizza, Chardonnay, and a night in all along. Cheers to good friends, and to good wine.




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