08 January 2010

2005 Red Diamond Chardonnay

One of my recent "grab a bottle at random" picks was the 2005 Red Diamond Chardonnay from Washington state, $10, 13.5% abv.

Nose of toasted marshmallows, buttered popcorn, just a hint of apricot in the background. Big, buttery mouthfeel with very low acidity, dry and fruity but with an ashy balancing element. Served with an omelet and hash browns after Christmas, sort of a comfort meal around the holiday, where the wine ended up carrying the buttered toast and fruit of a "breakfast for dinner" meal.

I briefly mentioned this wine on Facebook after trying it, and it was funny to read the responses. Some thought it sounded terrible, some thought it sounded delicious. Others just found it interesting. I'll admit that this style surprised me from Washington, and while it's not my favorite Chardonnay profile I do smile when I encounter such a wine. It stands out from the crowd of "Another Boring Chardonnay".

I bring this up not to criticize any of the responses, but rather to illustrate my method of reviewing wines. It should be obvious by now that I don't use scores, stars, or anything like that. Occasionally I'll praise a wine's quality-price ratio, or I'll say something is highly recommended, but mostly I just say, "here's what it smells and tastes like, and here's how it worked with food". In this case I described the wine honestly; if you like toasty/buttery/caramel Chardonnays, then this was a positive review. If you prefer a lighter, more restrained style, then this was a negative review. Take from that what you will.


fredric koeppel said...

well, as I'm sure you know, I'm with the "sounds terrible" crowd on this one. This is the kind of chardonnay that I find undrinkable.

Samantha Dugan said...

I believe I said something about my gag reflex when you posted...

Benito said...

Fredric & Sam,

Well, I wasn't going to pinpoint any names...

I prefer lighter, restrained Chardonnay. Completely unoaked is wonderful. Somehow I had gone a long time without encountering a "butter bomb", and so it stood out as something different merely by contrast.

This one is so over-the-top with oak that it would be great for teaching newbies how to spot those aromas and flavors in a more subtly oaked white.


Michael Hughes said...

Perfect example of how interest & pleasure of taste is in the eye of the beholder. Even though I am absolutely obsessed with WA wines this style doesn't sound appealing to me. However, it is to some people.

Benito said...


It's definitely odd for Washington, it screams California with every sip. Honestly I wasn't even going to write this one up, but a bunch of people got really excited by the description when I mentioned it on Facebook. Could be a fun one for a party if you wanted to do a compare and contrast with, say, a White Burgundy or unoaked Aussie chard.