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The CIA Uncorked: Greystone Cellars Chardonnay 2010

When you here someone talk about the CIA or that they have been there [either to visit or not by choice] many things can come to mind; like espionage, intrigue, spy-games or perhaps a dangerous liaison or two.

One thing that usually does not immediately spring to mind is private label wine, found among chef inspired dishes. Unless of course we are not talking about the trench-coated spies of the CIA, oh-no this CIA is one of the most celebrated culinary art schools here in the states.

You may be disappointed to know, that you won't find any folks with dark shades skulking around corners, instead what you will find are students dressed in white-chef-coats, learning how to produce many of the finest culinary creations , just waiting to tickle the taste buds. The now well known, foodie approved CIA headquarters in St. Helena, California is located on what is known as the Greystone Campus. Upon entering the main building, it has a "Hogwarts" look and feel about it, walking through the front door, seeing the broad-beamed stair cases.

It's known to most "foodies" and wandering-winos alike as the Culinary Institute of America. It's a great place to visit the next time you find yourself in heart of Napa wine country [right off historic highway 29], if you not done so already. A wonderful respite from the hurried pace of the Napa tasting room scene to grab a bite of lunch [make a reservation], before heading back out to the next winery tasting room on your list.

The Culinary Institute of America has developed a "private-label" wine program. From that program has come one of the better values in California Chardonnay in quite a long time, which is the wine in this weeks spotlight. The Greystone Chardonnay and their current 2010 vintage, which I received as a sample. Using predominantly fruit from the Santa Barbara area, they crafted a really well made Chardonnay that something to offer every palate, I also found this wine an easy food pairing champion.

When it came time for pairing ideas, this wine had me thinking seared bacon wrapped scallops on a bed of linguine, a delicate white-wine sauce, a meal that would meld effortlessly with this Chardonnay. This wine is best served cool and is immediately approachable after being uncorked. You'll find pleasing tropical notes that play nicely with small bites of apple, laid over a silky body, finishing with toffee and spice.

This wine is currently [at the time of this writing] selling in the $8.99 -$10.99 range, you can pick this wine up for the lower end of the reasonable-range at your local San Diego Costco warehouse. You can also find this wine currently on the wine-menu at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in St. Helena, selling for $30, a healthy mark-up. For the score hunters out there, I scored this wine a crisp 87 points, give it a hearty buy recommendation. Until next time, sip long and prosper cheers!

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