The new Coolshanagh winery has the modest goal of making the very best Chardonnay in the Okanagan.

Coolshanagh Chardonnay 2013 $37Even the name Chardonnay is loaded. It can conjure up images of California and hot tubs, Australia and oak or France and $$$ depending on who you’re talking to. And while people sometimes talk about the greatness of other grapes, the truth is Chardonnay is still the Mt Everest of white grapes. It’s a sentiment that Skip and Judy Stothert clearly share—otherwise they wouldn’t be hiring Chilean soil experts (Pedro Parra) and Italian wine consultants (Alberto Antonini) to help them make a Chardonnay of great character on their picturesque property at the rugged northern edge of the Naramata Bench. I had occasion to taste their wines recently—the 2012 (sold out) the 2013 (available) and a barrel sample at the yet to be released 2014. Right off the bat they’ve succeeded in grabbing a hold of the key characteristic to any great Chardonnay from Puligny Montrachet to Western Australia—lively acidity. Even better the vintages show a progression to a cleaner and more pure expression of the grape: the 2012 was the richest of the group and the 2014 has a fast green apple leanness that’s compelling.The only rub is that’s it’s hard to find. You can contact the winery, Marquis Wine Cellars has some and Hawksworth, Brix  and West all have it on their wine list.