Tag Archives: wine reviews

Expensive wine 77: Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2012


Leeuwin chardonnayCall it irony or coincidence or whatever, but Australian wines keep showing up in the monthly expensive wine post even though Australian wines are a drag on the market and aren’t famous for being expensive. Bring on the Yellow Tail shiraz, right?

Nevertheless, that producers like Leeuwin are making these kinds of wines points to the quality that has been overlooked in Australia’s troubles over the past decade. The Leeuwin chardonnay ($70, sample, 14%) is top-notch, even for the price, and if it isn’t high-end white Burgundy (chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France), it’s not supposed to be.

Look for rich, delicious apple fruit, as well as what the wine magazines called baked apple aromas, with a little cinnamon and spice mixing with the apple. Also, the wine has a full mouth feel, which you should get at this price. This is a New World chardonnay, a little heavier and with a little more oomph than white Burgundy, but it understands that quality is about more than oomph. In this, it should age well, losing some of the heft and becoming more refined over the next several years.

Drink this chilled with classic chardonnay cream sauce dishes; it’s also the kind of wine to give as a gift for someone who wants to explore high-end chardonnay, and understand that terroir exists in places other than California and France.

Barefoot wine review 2015


Barefoot wine revie 2015How is Barefoot the best-selling wine brand in the country, and perhaps the only wine costing less than $10 to thrive during premiumization? Because Barefoot is wine for people who don’t drink wine, and this year’s labels are excellent examples of that approach. And if the chardonnay was a touch sweet, the cabernet sauvignon was pleasant enough to drink again.

In this, it’s not so much that the cabernet ($6, purchased, 13.5%) and the chardonnay ($6, purchased, 13%) are simple, but that there is a method to their simplicity — sophisticated winemaking is used to get them to taste the way they do. Each wine emphasizes its fruit while pushing the stuff casual wine drinkers don’t like, the tannins and acid, to the background. The result? A soft, fruit-forward wine made for someone who buys Barefoot to have a glass or two in the evening, re-cork what’s left, and then drink again the next night. Frankly, that’s an impressive achievement for a $6 wine.

The cabernet, with an Argentine appellation but no vintage, was more enjoyable than the chardonnay, with a surprising amount of cabernet character, juicy dark berry fruit, almost no acidity, and enough tannins so that I noticed them but not so noticeable as to bother the brand’s target demographic. This is a red wine that is smooth and easy drinking, two terms that make wine geeks cringe but that are perfectly understandable to the people who buy Barefoot, and are the reasons they buy it.

The chardonnay tasted much like Cupcake’s chardonnay — not quite sugary, but sweet enough to linger on the tongue, plus caramel fake oak and lots and lots of green apple fruit. There was almost no acidity, and the sweetness helped mask a bitterness on the finish (probably from tannins from grape seeds and stems). That Barefoot delivers the same wine as Cupcake for half the price speaks volumes about how smart Barefoot parent E&J Gallo is. This wine is also non-vintage, and the grapes are from California.

More Barefoot wine reviews:
Barefoot wine review 2014
Barefoot wine review 2013
Barefoot wine review 2012

Wine of the week: Scaia Garganega Chardonnay 2013


Scaia Garganega ChardonnayIn the Winestream Media’s version of the world, the only odd grapes that matter come from countries that don’t make enough wine to matter, but are sold in Manhattan. If odd grapes are used in something that’s actually on store shelves, the wine gets 87 points, like the Scaia Garganega Chardonnay.

Which demonstrates two things — the uselessness of scores, and the idea that we should not be afraid to try something that isn’t what we usually drink. The main reason I bought this was wine was because it was an odd blend, and as the Italian Wine Guy has said more than once, the Wine Curmudgeon never met a grape he didn’t want to try. Especially it costs $10.

The Scaia Garganega Chardonnay ($10, purchased, 12.5%), an Italian white blend, speaks to all of those points. It will never get a 90-plus score because it’s a cheap white, and because the chardonnay is blended with the grape used to make Soave, an Italian white that is too often indifferently made. Besides, any self-respecting Winestream Media type would gag at the thought of chardonnay blended with garganega.

All of which is just wine writing foolishiness. The Scaia Garganega Chardonnay features the best of each grape — crispness and acidity from the garganega and a bit of richness and tropical fruit from the chardonnay. It’s a combination that’s to be much appreciated on a hot summer day, either on its own or with any kind of seafood. It’s also the kind of wine to keep on hand if you want a glass with dinner

Highly recommended, and a candidate (almost certain to be included) for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame.


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