Two (fairly naked) Chardonnays

With all the fabulous vegetables ripening in the garden and the variety now available in the Farmers Markets across town, I’ll continue with a couple more Chardonnays today, especially since I’m celebrating the high school graduation of my youngest son, Timothy! (We thought the day would NEVER arrive, lol!)

First up is a Festival ’34 Collection, Vintage 2009 Chardonnay. Produced by Wine World Estates, Napa, California. The cost was under $10 on sale at BevMo! – I lost the receipt for this one, sorry!

On The Label: It was very uninformative, had nothing about the winery or the wine. I actually don’t mind a label that doesn’t tell me what the wine is supposed to taste like, allowing me to make up my own mind and not be intimidated by the expert.

My take: A hint of oak makes this Chardonnay for me. It’s *not* big and buttery and in your face; those of you who like more “naked” Chardonnays will like this one I think. It has a nice, fresh first taste with the hint of oak hitting mid-taste.

The scent is of peach and vanilla, light and crisp. It would go well with any hot-weather meal based around vegetables, or with brunch with a seafood quiche as the star. Also a great sipping wine as you read pool-side this summer. It’s an unpretentious, very drinkable wine and good to share.

I rate this wine ~Very Drinkable~ .

Next we’ve got Toasted Head Barrel-aged Chardonnay 2009 Regular price, $16.99; on sale for $9.99 at Vons.

On The Label: “Toasted Head is named for the age-old practice of toasting barrel heads with fire, which is what helps to create the distinct, toasty flavor in all our wines.

Our Chardonnay is 100% barrel fermented and aged for eight months, imparting a unique richness and complexity to the wine, complemented by tropical fruits, peaches, and pineapple on the palate. The finish is well-rounded with toasty coconut and butterscotch notes.”

Well. Talk about a label shoving the wine down your throat. I am learning to be suspicious of labels that go into such detail about how the wine tastes and smells, as if needing to explain the wine or else it would maybe not taste good? I don’t know.

Anyway – it was a good wine. Not, in my opinion, worth $17; but not bad for under $10. I can smell the pineapple, when I concentrate very hard; but a wine shouldn’t take that much concentration to enjoy. I wonder if perhaps my sniffer isn’t up to par? A complex wine can be a joy; this wine, while perfect for summer, made me work too hard. Again, it’s light and non-oaky – those of you who like your nakeds will enjoy this one, too.

My rating: At $17 a bottle, ~Drinkable~ . At $10 a bottle, ~Very Drinkable~ . But don’t take my word for it – taste for yourself (hopefully at the cheaper price) and let me know what you think.

I’m curious – do you like a chatty label that goes on and on about the wine? Do you prefer a label that sticks to the facts? Or do you like something in between – informative, but not in your face?

And now in most of the country, school is out and summer is upon us.  Next week I’ll be hitting up Merlots. Forget what the movie Sideways taught – there are good Merlot wines out there, and I’ll be bringing them to you. For under $10 a bottle.

Happy sipping, and remember – your taste buds may vary!

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Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? You can find it at Crescent Moon Press or Happy Reading!

Today it’s Chardonnay

Today it’s Chardonnay

I know that last week I promised you three Chardonnays today, but I’m only hitting one. Hubby was skeptical that I’d find three under my $10 price range, but BevMo! came up trumps – they were having a good sale. I’m still only giving you one, though, lol!

Liberty School Chardonnay, 2008, Central Coast Regularly $12.99, on sale at BevMo! for $7.99

The Label: “Partially barrell fermented, this Chardonnay is rich in character and is a skilled example of what the Central Coast has to offer. While pleasing to the connoisseur, it’s fruit-driven style makes it purely unpretentious, gratifying and easy to enjoy with food or by itself.” Paso Robles, CA Hope Family Wines since 1978.

My take: If you’re looking for a big, oaky Chardonnay (I’ll get into THAT subject later), this isn’t it. It’s slightly fruity and not offensive on first taste. It had no real mid-taste, and it had a weak and inoffensive aftertaste. My hubby thought it went slightly sour at the end. What’s funny is their website says they age their Chardonnay in 50% French Oak and 50% American Oak. I didn’t get the slightest hint of oak in this wine.

We drank it with a dinner of chicken burgers (Costco – very yummy!) and citrus-roasted veggies. The wine went well with the meal, but it could have been so much better.

I rate this wine ~Drinkable~ . But find a nice Port or digestif to finish off your meal.

Regarding the trend away from big, oaky Chardonnays, I’ll stick my neck out and say, I don’t like it. I don’t like a limp Chardonnay that may as well be a Pinot Grigio. I don’t like thin Chardonnays, I never have. I adore the big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays that will go with any chicken or fish dish and do well with fruit and cheese after the meal, too. A Chardonnay like that will stand up to winter, as well as make you feel chill in the depths of summer.

The last couple of times we’ve been wine tasting in the Central Coast, we’ve been very disappointed in the thin “nakedness” of the Chardonnays. Aging them in steel isn’t doing the wine any favors, winemakers. If you must fool around with wine, fool with Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc or even, help me, a nice Chenin Blanc (very underrated and very hard to find).

If ANYONE still makes a nice, big, oaky buttery Chardonnay that doesn’t cost the earth, please let me know. I’ve been woefully disappointed in what I’m finding in the stores as well as at the wineries.

That’s all for now – more Chardonnay next week!