Follow the Buyer! William Leonard-Lee
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William's Bio

Buyer of: California Chardonnay

For twenty years, William has played a role in the food and wine industry. A Boston native with extensive experience in fine dining, he came to New York with his chef/wife Lisa in 2004 eager to explore the offerings of New York City and its world-class culinary pedigree. Since then, he immersed himself in Italian wines, running Vino Italian Wine and Spirits, one of the city’s most respected boutique wine shops and became the Wine and Beverage Director of iTrulli Restaurant. With an Advanced Certificate (WSET) from the International Wine Center, William continues to constantly explore the marriage of wine and food with his wife as they travel and entertain friends and family, and participate in the occasional underground supper-club.

“I am thrilled to be participating in the wide world of wine at a time when the amount of quality choice all around is truly unprecedented. I love a wine most when it reflects a sense of place. I am excited to see the widening trend towards making sustainable, organic and biodynamic product, though ultimately I don’t believe it to be the only prerequisite for making a ‘good’ wine.”

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William's Wine Selection - Alondra Chardonnay Middleridge Ranch 2010

When temperatures hover in the 90s, a glass or two of an unoaked California Chardonnay with just the right amount of acidity is one of life’s great pleasures.

The Story Why I Bought This Food Pairings

I am bred from restaurant stock so I love to find winemakers who come from a similar background. John Lancaster and Robert Perkins both hail from the wine program at the famed Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco—John was wine director and Robert the sommelier. Alondra (Spanish for skylark) is part of their Skylark portfolio, which includes a number of other wines, notably reds with a Rhône influence.

Chardonnay is grown the world over and is extremely receptive to both its natural surroundings and the whims of the winemaker. This allows it to show many faces, from bold, ripe oak-driven to mineral-bent and laser-tight. In the heat of the summer months, I am most appreciative of a refreshing and clean unoaked Chardonnay. Alondra is just that and more. The grapes are sourced from the Middleridge Ranch Vineyard in Mendocino where the cool nights help keep the fruit pure and the acidity bright and bracing. For a Chablis lover like myself, I immediately took to this when I first tasted it—and then I took another sip. The fruit is pure, apple and pear with subtle tropical and mineral notes. As well as not using oak, they refrain from allowing malolactic fermentation to occur, enhancing its freshness and grace.

This would pair beautifully with chilled seafood salad, like grilled squid and green papaya with peppers and mint. Not necessarily too spicy, but if you want to amp up the heat, go right ahead. Try it as well with mussels. One of my favorite recipes comes from Cambodia, a mussel, asian basil and sweet pepper mix (I like the Leah Cha recipe from Longteine De Monteiro of the Elephant Walk Cookbook), which works wonders when served with this wine.

Leah Cha (Sauteed Mussels with Basil)

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Reg. $19.99

Rob Perkins and John Lancaster of famed Boulevard restaurant sourced this from Middleridge Ranch inChardonnay is one varietal that can excel in a variety of different elevage regimes. visit Chablis and you won't see much oak. In Pulighny-Montrachet ... more
Sku: P58622

Reg. $19.99

The Wagner family believes that the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation in Monterey County is the best appellation in the world for producing Chardonnay. This region benefits from cool morning fog and afternoon breezes that result in a long growing ... more
Sku: 022944

Reg. $21.99

This is great small production Chardonnay that in my opinion does not cut any corners, especially coThis is great small production Chardonnay that in my opinion does not cut any corners, especially coming from an entry-level spot in the winery’s ... more
Sku: P58545