10 September 2005

2004 Crane Lake Chardonnay

I haven't found any solid information about Crane Lake Cellars, but they produce bargain table wines in California. Supposedly the grapes come from the Central Valley and are bottled in Napa. I grabbed a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Chardonnay, and here I'm talking about the latter. Again, at $4, I'm happy to use it for everyday cooking and casual quaffing. (Supposedly they make a Petite Syrah at the same price point--the manager of a local shop is getting a case of it based on my interest, and if I like it I'll certainly spread the word.)

This Chardonnay really isn't a bad wine. It's unoaked, and has a crisp initial feel with a mellow following. A slightly floral nose with some apple and pear flavors. I used it to enhance some slow simmered black beans to accompany a homemade Cuban Sandwich (more on that in a future post).

I'm really pleasantly surprised by this wine. It's not sour, it doesn't have a harsh aftertaste, and while it's not the most complex wine out there, I've had California Chardonnays costing five times as much that were terrible. This is definitely a good picnic wine, or something to sip beside the pool, or something to bring along to an informal gathering of non-serious wine drinkers.

The background and taste of this wine really remind me of the bargain Burgundy Roncier Blanc de Blancs. I've also got to give them credit for a classy label--simple and elegant text, with an dictionary-style etching of a crane.


Vern Andry said...

Well, that could be true.

Billy said...

well, I picked up a bottle to have at an informal gathering early in 2006. We'll see! Nice write up.

Anonymous said...

I haven't tried the Chardonnay, but I have tried the 2005 Sangiovese, the 2004 Petite Sirah, and the Pinto Grigio, and the Sauvignon Blanc...I bought a mixed case and it's pretty darn good. I would recommend any of these to my friends.

Michael McGrothers said...

Good, bad or indifferent I am a heavy buyer of the "cheap" wines. This Crane Lake is outstanding for the money. First, you don't expect it to be award winning BIG wine, therefore you are not dissapointed. The Chardonnay is excellent, the Merlot is good, the Cab is OK and the PS is better than expected. For $4.00 or less, you cannot go wrong. If it follows the Kendal Jackson train it will be $14.00 in ayear or two. STOCK UP.

Thanks, MM from Ohio

Bears Suck said...

Our hotel gave us a Crane Lake Merlot 2005 for free when they screwed up our orignal hotel room assignment. I was very excited in getting comped some free wine, so I rushed to the computer when I got home, and googled Crane Lake Cellars. Five bucks a bottle? Next time give me a 6 pack of Coors Light when you screw up my room. I would say more but my wife is currently looking over my shoulder. Thank you for listening.

Jennifer said...

As someone who worked at a winery in Sonoma and have grown used to good wine (but lack the willingness to pay for it:) I am always on the look out for great cheap wines. Crane Lakes Chardonnay is a great buy. The review was pretty accurate but I would add the nose is heavier than what was posted (pears, anyone?) and the finish is quite clean and lighter than the review. This has to be one of the best under $10 chardonnays I've found in quite a long while and in fact much much better than many 15-20 dollar brands... would be nice if they oaked some of these though... and if you like buttery steer clear no malo going on in these but I cant recommend more highly at 7 a pop.