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pollakYou are reading that right—a hopped Chardonnay, unoaked and filtered through cascade hops at two points in the vinification process.

Everyone needs a gimmick I suppose and this certainly gets your attention.  But in fact it is quite good, not merely a gimmick but a unique expression of Chardonnay. The nose of ripe pear and lime zest has good intensity with some grassy highlights drawing your attention. Red apple on the palate evolves into intense grapefruit supported by  gentle herbal hints. The creamy texture gives way to a piquant finish where the hops are most notable, lifting its intensity and length and giving the wine pizzazz. Unlike some over-hopped IPA beer, the finish is not excessively bitter. This is a very robust Chardonnay that will stand up to strongly flavored foods.

Score: 88

Price: $20

Alc: 12.6%

But of all the Chardonnay I tasted in Virginia, the 2015 Pollak impressed me most. I tasted some with more intensity but none had the finesse and elegance that sets this wine apart. The nose is rather quiet but ripe with guava, hints of red apple and soft wisps of wet stones. The medium-weight palate is delicately threaded with citrus flavors and gently persistent acidity carrying through the languorous, subtle finish. Its silken texture is endearing and sensual not by means of an overt come-on but just by being quietly comely. It manages to be svelte, fulsome and tender at the same time. A lovely wine.

20% aged in new French Oak but with only the barest hint of toast or butter.

Virginia has anointed Viognier the state grape. But I’ve been less than impressed with them. Among whites, Chardonnay is what they do best and this is the best among those I tasted.

Score: 92

Price: $24

Alc: 13.5

Both wineries are in the Monticello AVA and use 100% estate-grown grapes in these wines.