Chardonnay with a Midwestern Accent


Caroline Hatchett
Sommelier Steve Morgan of Formentos - Chicago, IL
Sommelier Steve Morgan of Formentos - Chicago, IL

Selling wine is all about making connections—between the somm and diner, diner and wine, and, in the case of Zepaltas Chardonnay, a winemaker and his home region. “I have a new passion for helping people see how great California Chardonnay can be,” says Steve Morgan, sommelier at Chicago’s Italian-American Formento’s. To help make his case, Morgan brings in juice from Ryan Zepaltas, a Midwesterner by birth and Sonoma County wine maker by trade.

Zepaltas made his way from Wisconsin to California in 1998 with a marketing degree and skateboarding obsession. Fast forward nearly two decades, and now he’s making wines for cult Pinot Noir house, Siduri, along with his own label (which includes Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and a white blend).

At Formento’s, Morgan pours Zepaltas’s elegant, full-bodied 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. “This wine knocked it out of the park for me,” says Morgan. “[Ryan] has a light, non-interventionist touch in his wines. And the climate and the terroir in Sonoma let you make things that are staggeringly good.”

Not only does “the Zepaltas have the full mouthfeel of Chardonnay, with great lemon and citrus notes, but it also refreshes and revitalizes the palate for the next bite. It’s not buttery, but it’s still opulent.” Morgan sells Zepaltas Chardonnay by the glass ($16) and bottle ($64) for your full-on, Midwestern-accented Chardonnay enjoyment.

Suggested pairing:

Chardonnay, Zepaltas, Russian River Valley, California, 2012
Chestnut-Ricotta-Spinach Cappelletti with Porcini Mushrooms


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