2007 Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay Sonoma County

Gallo?  Really?

The square in Healdsburg, California, once a sleepy farming town, underwent a bit of gentrification some years ago.  The quaint and sometimes quirky shops and cafes were replaced by boutiques, galleries, fancy hotels and, yes, more tasting rooms.

Several well-known and reputable wineries have chosen Healdsburg Plaza to locate tasting rooms.  And why not?  This is one of the loveliest spots in California wine country.  So when gin juice giant Gallo set up shop on the square, it raised some eyebrows.

Gallo, for decades synonymous with cheap jug wine (E&J Gallo), has not-so-quietly expanded into the premium and super-premium markets.  1993 saw the genesis of Gallo Estate Wines (think $85 Cabernet), followed by the Gallo of Sonoma brand (think $12 range), and a line of limited production, single vineyards bottlings (think $40-ish).  And that is what the tasting room is really all about - serious wines.  Unique wines.  Really, really good wines.

Who would've thunk it?

Turns out that best practices run downhill.  While the Estate wines are in a league of their own, the consistency and value of the Sonoma Reserve lines are impressive indeed.

A perennial favorite, this Chardonnay is down right fun to drink.  Nothing complicated, challenging, or though-provoking, but it has all the right elements in all the right proportions.  And at $9.99, what's not to love?

Rating: Fun, yummy, and very accessible.  Available almost anywhere.