Started out with mixed emotions about this 2009 Estrella Chardonnay. In fact, I thought I would give it 3 Corkscrews up until the point that I sat down at the computer and changed my mind settling on the 4 Corkscrews I ended up awarding. Now behind my reasoning. I was shopping in the local wine section and seeing the same old wines I see there every time I visit the store. Same prices as well with most of the stuff I've been buying around the $11-12/bottle range. Much to my surprise the Estrella was on a lower shelf and displayed a price of $4.99. Yes you read that right, $4.99! Now if you're like me the first thing that pops in your head is that this must be some crappy wine? Why else would it be priced so ridiculously low? Fortunately for the good folks at the vineyard, I'm one who will take a chance on a cheap wine in hopes that I can find an undiscovered jewel. I don't know that I can put this one in the jewel category but it is worth every cent I paid for it and then some. On the nose this wine displays lots of fruit and, how's the best way to put this, "thickness". Now I know you're saying "How can you smell thickness?" Well, you just can! Maybe bold or strong might be better words but I'm staying with "thickness". Darkish yellow in color my first taste revealed strong apple flavor and honeydew melon. A little bit of oak but not overpowering. The "thickness" I noticed on the nose was evident on the palate as well. If you don't like a bold, really tasteful Chardonnay, stay away from this one because it packs a lot of flavor in each sip. I wasn't really crazy about the finish as it had a little burn to it. If not for the $4.99 price I would have given this 3 Corkscrews but the most excellent price was what put me over the edge to 4 Corkscrews. I highly recommend this one if you can find it anywhere from $4.99 - $6.50/bottle. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine.
We had this wine, a 2010 24 Rivers Chardonnay from South Africa, to serve at our party last night. This wine came out before the Barco and it's a good thing. I might have given up drinking wine altogether if I'd started with the Barco. An affordable wine, picked this one up for about $8.00, it was worth the price and a good find. On the nose a little oak and peach was exhibited. Once on the palate more of the toasty oak was noted and more of the peach with a little vanilla thrown in. Smooth finish made for an enjoyable glass of wine. I gave it 3 corkscrews for overall drinkability. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine.
Had a get together at the house last night and this was one of the wines we had bought to try out. The 2010 Barco Viejo Chardonnay from Chile can be picked up for around $6 - 7 per bottle. Way too sweet and not a wine I will ever have in the house again. I had two glasses of it, I was hoping the second would be better than the first, wrong, and had a pseudo hangover that called back to memory a time when I had three glasses of Yellowtail and felt like a zombie the following day. There's just nothing I can say about this wine other than to steer clear of it. I gave it 1 corkscrew which, if you know my rating system, means head for the nearest sink with this and make sure it doesn't come in contact with a wine glass. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine (just not this one)!
After a long lay off from the old wine site here, I'm coming back with a vengeance. Last night #1 and I had the opportunity to attend a wine dinner at The Ashby Inn in beautiful Paris,Virginia. Now we've never stayed at this lovely little B & B but friends of ours have and just rave about it, and the setting and grounds are exquisite. This wine dinner featured the wines of the Qupe' vineyard located in California's Central Coast. To be honest with you I wasn't familiar with this vineyard and their wines but I'm glad I've discovered them. They are definitely not in the under $10 category but more of a special occasion wine with the majority of them in the $17 - $55 range and topping out at $100 for one of their Syrah's. If you're ever in the Washington, D.C. area it is well worth the trip west, about 40 miles or so, to have a meal in this quaint inn and experience the peacefulness of the surrounding countryside. Now more about the dinner and the wines that accompanied each course:
Bien Nacido Cuvee Viognier-Chardonnay
This 2009 vintage Viognier-Chardonnay mix was served with a variety of different finger food items that included a unique prosciutto wrapped pretzel stick with a spicy type mustard inside. Very different and tasty. This wine had a very nice nose with lots of floral and fruit picked up. Reminded me of a fruit orchard at harvest time. No oak picked up on the nose at all although I'm told this is aged in old oak barrels. A 50/50 mix of chardonnay and viognier the acidity was nicely balanced on the palate. This wine could easily be enjoyed by itself but was a great accompaniment to the first course. I gave this wine four corkscrews due to its excellent nose and burst of flavor on the tongue. This retails for around $20 so not a wine I would probably drink on a daily basis or even weekly basis.
The 2010 version of the Qupe Marsanne was served with a delightful dish that consisted of chilled shrimp very lightly poached, that had sorrel and saffron onion petals along with crispy heads. What are crispy heads you ask? They are actually the head of the shrimp fried to a crispiness that turns them into something akin to a potato chip. Now I've eaten and prepared a lot of shrimp over the years but the heads always ended up in the garbage can. I hesitated momentarily as I decided whether this was meant to be eaten or just a garnishment. Having learned that it was meant to be eaten, I dug in. To my surprise it was actually quite tasty. So much so that I ate the second one on my plate and the two on my neighbor's plate as she passed on trying them. A nice dish all the way around. The Marsanne exhibited notes of citrus, hazelnut, butter and a little peach on the nose. On the palate I picked up more of the peach that I had picked up on the nose as well as a little more nuttiness. A good pairing with the shrimp dish although not my favorite of the night. Not that it was bad just not quite as tasty as the Viognier-Chardonnay that we'd had with the first course. This also retails in the $20 per bottle range so another one that I wouldn't drink on a regular basis. I really need to open a wine shop so I can start buying at wholesale!
Stay tuned for the rest of my review of this five course wine dinner in the coming days.
Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
This was the find of my week! I picked this one up on a lark due to its label and its outlandishly low price. $3.99!!!! I knew this was going on a limb but at $3.99 it was a gamble I was willing to take. All I can say is rush out and buy this one before they realize it's under priced. Lots of citrus and hazelnut on the palate and very light for a chardonnay. Almost more similar to a Pinot Gris. Very nice finish as well. I didn't notice any oak in this one and suspect that it is aged in stainless. Not that that's a bad thing but if you're looking for a big, oaky chardonnay, this is not what you're looking for. Easily gave 4 Corkscrews to this one based on its unbelievable low price and taste. Great, great value. I'm on my way out to go pick up at least a half case or more. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Cheap Double Dog Dare Chardonnay!
Today's reviewed wine is the product of a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas for a gymnastics meet my favorite 10 year old was competing in. We made it a family trip and overall had a good time. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Fayetteville which I can't highly recommend. Really small rooms and evidently no insulation or soundproofing was used in our room as we easily heard our neighbors every conversation late into the night. We picked up the 2005 Sawbuck Chardonnay for $6.99 at Liquor World a few miles from the University of Arkansas. I've been on their email newsletter list for some time and I guess I was expecting a little more. They've got a huge selection of wine but it is located in a strip mall and the store felt somewhat cavernous. I guess I like my wine stores a little more upscale and their pricing wasn't a whole lot better than what I've been able to find in Little Rock. On to the review. My first experience with this wine was less than memorable. Nothing on the nose and my first glass of this reminded me more of a Sauvignon Blanc. Very light, no oak or body to speak of and just uneventful. I admit this is a little old for a Chardonnay and may have been better in it's day. That being said my initial reaction was to give this a low 2 Corkscrews but after drinking this for a couple of days my mind has been changed. The second day this one was much better and earned another Corkscrew much to my surprise. Final tally, 3 Corkscrews based on price and taste. Don't kill yourself trying to find this but if you can find it for $5 or less, by all means give it a try. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
My second visit to a local wine store ended up with my car stopping in front of Kybecca on the Table , also in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is the kind of wine store I'd like to open some day! Lots of affordable wines, a good sized artisan cheese selection and a lot of other items that you might want to pick up. They've also got a great web site and two locations in the Fredericksburg area. Very friendly and helpful staff made this shopping trip very enjoyable. I picked up a bottle of the 2006 Leese-Fitch Chardonnay based strictly on the unique corking system. You unfurl the plastic which leaves you with a nice plastic cork that easily fits back in the bottle. Since it was only $10/bottle I took a chance and purchased this one. Somewhat dry this Chardonnay, although from California, is made more in the "french style" which is, how does she say it, a good thing! Nice balanced fruit on the palate with an excellent soft finish. Did I mention it's a little dry? This one comes from the Don Sebastiani & Sons megaconglomerate, but I highly recommend it if you like the french styling of chardonnay. I gave it 4 Corkscrews and will purchase more in the future. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine & Check out Kybecca!
Never has a wine been more appropriately named. The 2006 Erratic Chardonnay from Washington state definitely has an "erratic" taste. On the nose maybe a little hint of lemon but couldn't pick up anything else. When I first tasted this it was well-chilled and the flavors on the palate were pretty much non-existent. It got a little better after it warmed a few degrees but I still couldn't find anything to recommend about this wine. Finish was, how can I say this with a straight face, erratic! Not smooth but also not harsh. Just finished. I paid $8.99 for this bottle which was about $6.99 too much. Avoid this one. Not sinkable but darn close! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine other than Erratic Chardonnay!
Well it has been some time since I've posted a new wine review, it's amazing how much time coaching a 7-8 year old's baseball team can take, no complaints though just very little time to write. I liked today's reviewed wine so much that I knew it would be the first review I'd post when I got a chance to write a line or two. A 2004 Moon Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay, #1 and I found this in a grocery store in Sedona, Arizona. We asked our waiter at the Hilton resort where a good wine store was and we were greeted with bemused wonderment. After thinking for a minute or so he told us that the local grocery store down the street carried wine and gave us directions. He was correct! In fact, they had quite the selection. We came across this one on an end cap at a ridiculously low price of $3.99/bottle. We took it back to our room, chilled it and popped the cork later in the evening. Needless to say we hightailed it back to the store the next day to stock up as this was a really good chardonnay. Medium body with lots of apple, toasty vanilla, nutmeg and a silky smooth finish. We couldn't believe our good fortune to find such a good wine at such a good price. Don't know the possibility of finding any more of this, we found this back in March, but if you do don't let the low price scare you off! This is a good chardonnay. Easily gave it 4 Corkscrews based on taste and excellent value. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
A good, affordable wine that goes well with anything, or all by itself. That is my quest and the 2006 Parducci Chardonnay from Mendocino Wine Company perfectly fits the bill. Lots of fruit aromas on the nose with lots of apple and vanilla flavors on the palate and an absolute perfect balance of oak. A hint of dryness with a very smooth finish made this a very enjoyable wine to partake of. In my quest to find out more about this wine, I had never even seen it before my purchase, I found the Mendocino Wine Company website and learned that they were the first carbon neutral winery in the United States. Now I'm not a so-called "tree hugger" by any stretch but do think we can do more to preserve the earth's bounty for future generations. It is nice to know that a company is doing their part and making great wine. I bought this one for $10.99 and gave it 4 Corkscrews as it was an overall enjoyable and tasty wine. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
Finally a new wine in the market to try and to review. We stopped at a little store near our house on the way home from my little girl's victorious soccer game and picked this one up. The 2006 Hob Nob Chardonnay appears like most California chardonnay bottles and that's exactly what the French want us to think. This California-sounding and looking wine is actually a product of France. No problem as far as I'm concerned because if it had been packaged as a fancy french white I probably would have had to pay more. After chilling this for awhile I poured a glass and noted a light-to-medium golden color in the glass. A few swirls later and my nose was treated to lemon, citrus, hazelnut and an overwhelming smell of "freshness" for lack of a better term. On the tongue I noted apple, just the right amount of oak and just a hint of honey. A smooth, velvety finish made for a nice glass of white. I gave this one 4 Corkscrews based on its great taste and just as important, its great price of $8.99 bottle. This may not have hit your market yet but ask your local retailer to source it for you as it is well worth it. I would have awarded 5 Corkscrews but a slight, very, very slight, after bite was present that kept it from achieving the highest rating.
On another note, I've come across a great wine accessories site that I'm going to post about this weekend after I finish testing one of their really unique products. Just in time for all your holiday giving. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!