2007 Lioco Chardonnay Sonoma County

California in a bottle.

Some wines are so true to their origin they radiate the personality from whence they came.

This is one of those wines.

LIOCO, a joint venture between Matt Licklider and Kevin O'Connor (LI-cklider + OCO-nnor = LIOCO), represents a purist approach to winemaking. Purist. That's an overused word in a world of over handling. But these guys mean it. It says so on their website.

Their tag line is 'pure, honest, principled wine'.

And for all the wine drinkers out there who turn their nose up at California Chardonnay, prepare for an epiphany. This is not California Chardonnay. This is Chardonnay fruit from California made with a French soul.

And for the rest of us who like CaliChard just fine, this is an opportunity to see what unadulterated Chardonnay from California tastes like. And it's lovely.

This is LIOCO's entry level Chard. They also make several single vineyard Chardonnays, some Pinots, an oddball red bistro wine, and a rose. If this wine is representative of their approach to Pinot, we can't wait to lay our hands on some of it.

Co-founder Matt Licklider tells us that, LIOCO (which they refer to as a "project") kicked off production in 2005. Since then they've maintained a faithful approach to their Chardonnays using only 100% steel, all wild yeast, and spontaneous malolactic fermentation. The juice sits sur lie, and gets no fining or filtration.

Their reds, which we hope to review at some point in the near future, do see some wood (depending on the vintage), but otherwise follow the same protocols.

Put this wine head to head with some of Burgundy's finer whites and this wine isn't going to outclass the pack. It doesn't deliver the same layers of complexity as a Montrachet or Meursault. But that wouldn't be a fair comparison. The LIOCO doesn't pretend to be something it isn't. (And it's a third of the cost of a decent Burgundy.)

What it does deliver is this: Freshness. Body. Flavor. Aren't those the reasons we drink wine to begin with? Not for a second do you miss oak. The thought won't even cross your mind. This wine is a joy to drink the way laughing loudly makes you feel like a kid again.

Not a bad transportation for a twenty spot.

We paid $19.99 and haven't seen it for any more - or less - anywhere, and consider that to be a fair price considering the quality experience.

Rating: Yeah!