Best of the Best 2011: Domestic White Wines: Vineyard 7 & 8 2008 “8” Chardonnay

    In 1999, epicures Weezie and Launny Steffens succumbed to the disease that strikes so many visitors to Napa Valley: They were bitten by the winemaking bug. The difference between the Steffens and other victims of the viticulture virus is the spectacular property they managed to obtain. Located in the Spring Mountain District, their 40 acres, 16 of which are planted, hover roughly 2,000 feet above the valley floor—and well above the fog line—enjoying moderate temperatures and ample sunlight during the ripening season. This geography shows beautifully in the Vineyard 7 & 8 2008 "8" Chardonnay (www.vineyard7and8.com, $50), an intricately layered tour de force of honey, nougat, baked pear, and vanilla cream.

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