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Tag Archives: chardonnay

Mini-reviews 61: McKinley Springs, Gordon Brothers, Fowles, Alamos

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wine mini-reviews 61Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

McKinley Springs Bombing Range Red 2010 ($15, sample, 13.8%): Ordinary Washington state red blend, made with more than half syrah, that has lots of cherry fruit that people of a certain age will buy for the World War II fighter plane label.

Gordon Brothers Chardonnay 2012 ($15, sample, 13.7%): Washington state chardonnay that tastes, believe it or not, exactly like the back label says it does — apricot, pear, and buttery vanilla. A little much for my taste, but there’s a demand for this style.

Fowles Sauvignon Blanc Are you Game? 2012 ($17, sample, 12.7%): Very nicely done white from Australia that is more California in style, with with lots of grassy aromas. The only quibble: Is it almost twice the wine of something like the Dry Creek fume blanc?

Alamos Chardonnay 2012 ($13, sample, 13.5%): Grocery store chardonnay from Argentina (some oak, some green apple, and not much else) with a suggested retail price that’s almost one-third more than a typical grocery store chardonnay. Which says pretty much everything you need to know about the wine.

Expensive wine 62: Chamisal Califa Chardonnay 2011

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Expensive wine 62: Chamisal Califa Chardonnay 2011One of the challenges with writing about California chardonnay, and especially the expensive kind, is that the Wine Curmudgeon is often in danger of wearing out his welcome. How often will visitors here read “over-oaked” and “too much alcohol” before they shake their heads, click the post closed, cancel their e-mail subscription, and hope someone tells me I need to get some help.

Fortunately, I was at a big-time tasting last week, and the Califa ($40, sample, 13.2%) was one of the highlights. It comes from the Edna Valley, which means winemaker Fintan du Fresne doesn’t have to deal with the expectations that winemakers do in Napa or Sonoma. That means he can take advantage of the region’s cooler temperatures (and it was very cool in 2011) to fashion a leaner, though still rich and elegant, white wine. Look for green apple and lime fruit, some amazing crispness, and just enough oak to let you know you’re drinking high-end chardonnay.

How nice was this wine? I preferred the Califa to Pine Ridge’s Dijon Clones chardonnay, also at the tasting, and there was nothing wrong with the Dijon Clones. The Califa wasn’t intent on impressing me with the first sip; rather, it’s as if it said, “Take your time. Drink a little more, and really get to know me.”

Highly recommended (though, sadly, with what appears to limited availability). This is a Mother’s Day gift for any mom who loves wine and wants to be reminded why California is one of the world’s great wine regions.

Mini-reviews 60: Wairau, Garzon, Chapoutier, Chablis

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Mini-reviews 60: Wairau, Garzon, Chapoutier, ChablisReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Wairau River Chardonnay 2012 ($22, sample, 13%): Professionally made California-style chardonnay from New Zealand, with green apple fruit and enough oak to be noticed but not to be offensive. Having said that, why spend $22 for it when there are similar wines costing one-third less?

Bodega Garzón Tannat 2012 ($20, sample, 13.8%): Tannat is a red grape that has caught on with wine geeks, and this bottle from Uruguay is well made, if pricey. But, save for a funky aroma, it tastes a lot like $15 California central coast merlot without any of tannat’s grip.

M. Chapoutier Rosé Belleruche 2013 ($15, sample, 13%): Dependable French rose has increased in price by almost one-third (thanks to a new importer?), which makes it a lot less dependable. Wine itself is OK, though this vintage has more strawberry fruit and less crispness. But there are dozens of $10 roses with same quality or better.

Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis 2012 ($20, purchased, 12.5%): This chardonnay from Chablis region of Burgundy in France was sadly  disappointing — thin and almost watery, with very little of the crisp, fresh green apple fruit that makes Chablis so wonderful. May have been corked, which is yet another reason for screwcaps. If not, the producer has serious quality control problems.

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