Wine of the week: Yellow + Blue Chardonnay 2011

P66907110The Yellow + Blue boxed wines have long been among the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorites – cheap, well-made, and aimed at wine drinkers who want a quality product without any fuss.

Retailers have not always shared that enthusiasm. The wines come in a 1-liter juice box with plastic screwcap, which is terrific for consumers but problematic for retailers. Stores, after all, are built with shelves designed for 750-milliliter bottles. So the wines, if the retailer carries them at all (“Boxed wine? We don’t need no stinkin’ boxed wine”), get shunted to the back of the store, out of sight and out of mind.

That’s too bad. The Yellow + Blue rose, torrontes, and sauvignon blanc are top notch, and each has been in the $10 Hall of Fame at one time or another. The chardonnay ($10, purchased, 13.5%), though not quite as well done as the best Yellow + Blue wines, may be an even more impressive achievement.

That’s because the grapes come from Lodi in California, hardly the lodestone of chardonnay and a region that out tankerloads of flabby and almost sweet versions of the varietal. Yellow + Blue impresario Matt Cain, though, has made a wine with pleasant tropical fruit and a bit of a pithy finish that tastes like chardonnay. That’s not easy to do, given what he was working with in Lodi.

This is the kind of well-priced and professional wine that we need to see more of from California. Now all we have to do is to convince retailers it’s worth carrying.

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