Those who think that Chardonnay has nothing new to say have another thing coming. Go west, to the Sierra Foothills, the epicenter of California’s Gold Rush in the days of old, and you’ll find new gold in this 2014 CRUSE WINE CO. Chardonnay. Just six barrels made, so there’s very little to mine. This is as iconoclastic as Chardonnay gets. Like it’s holding up the middle finger to boring Chardonnays traveling down the same, tired path. The nose on this wine says “pay attention!”—it’s frisky with tart lemon and very nutty in almond and walnut along with crème brulee, vanilla bean and a hint of coconut for added excitement. Mouthfeel is like lemon curd, round, somewhat creamy and finishing on bright acidity. You would have to think that the extremely rocky soils of the foothills terrain has something to do with the raw, earthy, stony character of this Chard. It’s highly individualistic in personality—it rides alone—it’s rugged—it’s salt of the earth; this is True West. –J.M.