Today's themed grape was Chardonnay... I don't drink a lot of Chardonnay, because a good oaked one is going to cost at least $20 (such as a decent Pouilly-Fuissé), and inexpensive oaked Chardonnay (I'm looking at you, California) can taste awful. On the other end, inexpensive unoaked Chardonnay is often delightful--there are some good table-variety white Burgundies and similar wines from Australia. However, I was pleasantly surprised by several of Saturday's selections.
Wine 1: 2003 Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay. Santa Maria Valley, California. A little buttered toast aroma on top, fruity and acidic. Really powerful flavor. $24.
Wine 2: 2002 Louis Latour Pouilly-Vinzelles "En Paradis". Burgundy, France. Clean and crisp aroma, watery and just too mild. This is an unoaked wine, but it really could have used just a bit more punch. $16.
Wine 3: 2002 Chateau Reynella Chardonnay. McLaren Vale, Australia. The winery is owned by Hardy Wine Company, which is owned by Pacific Wine Partners, which is owend by the Constellation conglomerate. I was able to find a little more information on the winemaker, but not much about the specific wine. I found it lemony and slightly sweet, with firm acids. A well balanced wine. Probably fantastic with a spicy seafood dish. $16.
Wine 4: 2003 Elderton Unwooded Chardonnay. This had a really strong, musky aroma--not corked, but more like overripe fruit. However, it had good citrus flavors and a decent finish. $14.
Wine 5: 2003 Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay. Columbia Valley, Washington. Mild butter flavors and an overall mellow impact on the mouth. Really delightful. $20.
Wine 6: 2003 Catena Chardonnay. Mendoza, Argentina. This is the biggest wine producer in Argentina, responsible for several different product lines. This bottle had soft fruit nose, very mild, well rounded flavors. It's always nice to find a well-balanced wine. $19.
Wine 7: 2004 Red Bicyclette Chardonnay. Vin de Pays d'Oc, France. Very fruity aroma, though I got apples where others smelled peaches. Lightly oaked, not overly powerful or weak. I've only had this on one or two occasions, but I recognized it immediately. I know it's fashionable to hate the Red Bicyclette wines, but they're not bad for the price. $11.
Wine 8: 2004 Glen Carlou Chardonnay. Paarl, South Africa. Melony, musky aroma. A little sweet with a harsh aftertaste. Not enthusiastic about this one. $14.
Wine 9: 2003 Sonoma-Loeb Private Reserve Chardonnay. Sonoma, California. Some ripe fruit flavors, but an aftertaste that made me want to quit and brush my teeth. The only wine out of the tasting that I really couldn't stand. $30.
Wine 10: 2002 Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay Toscana I.G.T.. Tuscany, Italy. Oak and butter, with hints of stewed fruit on the tongue. A good little wine. $12.
Wine 11: 2003 Morandé Terrarum Chardonnay. Maipo Valley, Chile. Great aroma of raisins on top, with good full fruit and a slightly crisp finish. $12.
Wine 12: 2004 Chehalem "INOX" Chardonnay. Willamette Valley, Oregon. Fruit all over the place, though a slightly bitter aftertaste. Would probably work better with food. The name INOX refers to inoxidable, the French word for stainless steel. $19.