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.