Snarking on Winter Whites

Snarking on Winter Whites

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.

Today I’ve got three white wines. Yes, despite the fact that I am a red wine whore fan, at times the food, the day, the palate cry out for a white wine. I’m not entirely sure when, but my husband makes sure to point out all the signs. Like, he opens a bottle of white wine and pours it for dinner. That’s usually a really good sign that it’s time for a white wine. So, without further ado, here are the three that have managed to sneak onto my dinner table in the past couple of weeks.

It’s A HeadSnapper Pinot Grigio 2011 D.O.C. Trentino, Product of Italy Alcohol 12.5% by Volume,  $9.99 at Vons

On the Label: “When a wine is so memorable that it makes you do a double take, you know “It’s a HeadSnapper.”

“Zesty and floral, our Pinot Grigio has delicate notes of honeysuckle and figs which finish with a crisp, soft note. Enjoy its refreshing finish with wood-fired quatro pizza or simply as an aperitif.


My Take: In my opinion, people in the wine industry should not try to become standup comics. Neither should they try to be “cute” with their labels. Honestly, it took me several years after seeing my first “HeadSnapper” label to actually get up the nerve to buy one.

On the one hand, the subliminal message of the label could be, “hey, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and neither should you” – but it could also be saying “we’re a really bad wine disguising ourselves with a funny label”.  I finally got up the nerve, in spite of the label, to give it a whirl.

I liked it. Crisp, refreshing, just the way a Pinot Grigio should taste. I didn’t taste any figs or honeysuckle, but it was a nice, clean wine that was in no way offensive.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable Plus ~ Yeah, technically that’s not a rating, but it didn’t quite elevate itself up to Very Drinkable so I had to come up with something else. Drinkable Plus seems to work for now.

Toad Hollow 2010 Unoaked Chardonnay Francine’s Selection, Mendocino County Alcohol 13.9% by Volume, under $10 at Vons.

On the Label: “2010 Unoaked Chardonnay. Clean, crisp and full flavored with hints of mango and melon and a rich, creamy mouth feel. Pair with herbed chicken, braised pork, grilled shellfish, sushi. Also great with goat cheese and gouda. A treat for the senses!

“Seriously crafted from three Mendocino County vineyards that produce clean, bright flavors in Chardonnay.  Whole cluster picked and pressed into tanks, racked and chilled to 52 degrees F. Slow fermentation process to retain fruity characteristics. Absolutely no oak!”

My Take: Okay, okay, no oak. I get it. Though why they would brag about leaving out an important (to me) part of wooing the chardonnay grapes is totally beside me. Though I do understand there are fanatic Chardonnay drinkers out there who actually prefer the stainless steel taste in their Chardonnay and in fact, am friends with more than a few, I do believe this is just a fad and will fade with time. My fondest hope is that there will be a middle ground – not the huge buttery, oaky Chardonnays of the 1980s (which was a fad in itself), but something milder, and without the metallic taste so often prevalent in the unoaked Chardonnays.

My Rating: ~ Thiscloseto Very Drinkable ~ Yes. Despite my rant above, this is close to being a Very Drinkable wine. Not too metallic (but that does creep in a tiny bit to my personal palate) but drinkable. Despite the cutesy label  (with Mr. Toad, in waistcoat and walking stick, lifting a glass to the sky), too – I guess after the HeadSnapper label, this one was mild in comparison. At any rate, all you Unoaked fans will appreciate this one.

Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay 2011 The Earth Friendly Winery™ Pioneers in sustainability; Established in 1968. 14% less carbon emissions. Alcohol 13% by Volume. Under $10 at Vons

On the Label: “Renewal. With each new vintage, I recall why I enjoy making wine. Starting fresh each spring energizes me. My sense of personal renewal shows in our popular Chardonnay. This is a wine with a medium body, full of easy-to-drink flavors of apple, pear and tropical fruits. So when the day is done, I like to relax and refresh with good friends. Our Chardonnay is always invited. Perfect with most fish dishes and white meats like chicken or pork.” Dennis Martin, Winemaker

“Fetzer now uses lighter glass bottles, runs the winery from mostly green energy, recycles, the list goes on…enhancing our heritage of sustainability.”

My Take: There is so much wrong with that back label that I’m stumped as to where to start. I’m not sure, for instance, that I want to know what part of Dennis’ sense of personal renewal shows in the wine. Is it the sweat of work well done? *shudder* And how about where he “invites” his friend, Chardonnay, to relax with him – and then CONSUMES said friend? It’s just – disturbing. But for me, the icing on the cake is their trumpeting of their “green” practices. If you have to shout about it on the label…*shakes head*. I suppose it is a good thing that I make a practice of NEVER reading the back label before I buy.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ When all is said and done, Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years. They’ve kept the price low, which means I can still afford it, and it’s a solid producer, year after year. What’s not to like?

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ. Thanks for dropping by! I love your comments – what new wine (or old favorite) have you enjoyed recently?

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!