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Anything But Chardonnay!?

p
Phoo D Sep 4, 2006 08:45 PM

I still remember the first bottle of Chardonnay I ever tasted. My girlfriend and I were invited to some soirée at her manager's place in 1974 or 75. We were supposed to bring a bottle of white wine. I probably just went to a grocery store, but I really don't remember where I found the bottle of wine. The label said it was a Pinot Chardonnay from Christian Brothers' winery. I probably had a couple of glasses of the wine that evening and remember that I liked it immensely.

Thereafter for the next 20 years, my white wine of choice was Chardonnay. Of course I would drink other white wines; in particular I have always had a fondness for Rieslings and also sometimes would have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Nonetheless, I drank far more Chardonnay than all other white wines combined. I even grew to love the super buttery, oakey California versions of the grape.

Then one night began to change my tastes in white wine. A friend of mine and I were enjoying a special dinner at the Sardine Factory in Monterey, California. We started with the bottle of Le Sophiste, a Marsanne and Rousanne blend from Bonny Doon winery. It went well with the food and I enjoyed its minerality and its structure. It was so good that we finished it before our main courses arrived, so we asked the sommelier - an older gentleman with a German accent, a black patch over one eye, and a tastevin around his neck - to recommend a nice big California Chardonnay to go with the main courses. When we began to taste the Sanford Chardonnay he suggested, it seemed flabby, simple, and uninteresting. I really missed the Sophiste.

This would be a better story if I said that I'd never again enjoyed Chardonnay, but actually it took a few years for me to come to the point where I no longer liked the flavor profile of that grape. Don't get me wrong, if you buy me a nice bottle of Chardonnay, I will find a way to drink it. If you serve a chard with the dinner over at your place, I promise I won't complain, but I no longer order Chardonnay, buy it myself, or even taste it in wineries.

Having given up Chardonnay has opened my mouth to a large range of other whites. NZ Sauvignon Blancs are probably my current dry white favorite, but I also have enjoyed all sorts of white blends, regained a fondness for Chenin Blanc, and discovered Torrontes, Alsatian wines of all sorts, Viogniers, Pinot Grigios (or Gris) etc.

In any case, my experience with Chardonnay leads me to ask you other hounds out there if you've had similar experiences to mine. Have your views of a varietal ever changed dramatically? Have you ever burned out on a grape varietal? How do you feel about Chardonnay? What are your favorite white varietals?

ed

  1. Robert Lauriston Sep 18, 2006 06:01 PM

    I tasted a great obscure California chardonnay in a wine bar this week and liked it enough to buy a bottle. Hawkes 2005 "Home Ranch" chardonnay, 13.4 alcohol, good acid, very restrained oak, lovely nose, very balanced. If I'd been tasting it blind I would have thought France or maybe New Zealand. Good value at $20. No info on it on the winery's Web site.

    http://hawkeswine.com/

    1. k
      kenito799 Sep 18, 2006 05:55 PM

      Eating some ceviche, avocadoes, and meats off the grill yesterday on a lazy sunny September Sunday (September has got to have the best summer weather in NY...lower angle of the sun makes everything golden, low humidity), we wound up, sort of by accident, tasting 4 very different and very interesting non-chards so I thought I would mention them on this ABC thread. As summer winds down we start to drink less white, so it was really fun to enjoy this range of grapes yesterday.

      Araldica Castelvero Cortese 05, a simple crisp wine from Piedmont that we have been drinking all summer. $7-8 a bottle, light and citrusy, a great value.

      Funtanin Roero Arneis 05. This was such a hit. Very pale lemon yellow, subtle aromas of apples, light and crisp with great acidity and a refined complex finish with wet stone and lavender notes. My first Arneis, what a treat. $15.

      Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna Costamolino 05. My first taste of this extremely aromatic varietal. Peaches, tropical fruit and vanilla, some spice on the finish and the oak isn't overwhelming, still crisp but this was heading towards the buttery side of the white spectrum. $9 special at PJWine.

      Finally a Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 05, couldn't be more different than all of the above, full on grapefruit/grass/gooseberries and zing, classic NZ SB, I think a great value when this is what you are looking for.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kenito799
        Robert Lauriston Sep 18, 2006 06:03 PM

        No oak in either of Argiolas's vermentinos, 100% stainless steel. The Costamolino's a great value.

        http://www.winebow.com/wine_producer....

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          k
          kenito799 Sep 18, 2006 06:06 PM

          wow that's really surprising...you would never know it from the vanilla notes. Very interesting grape!

      2. Ed Dibble Sep 18, 2006 02:51 PM

        I want to thank everyone for the interesting and often informative posts. Thanks.

        I also want to say that I did not mean that chards weren't any good - just that I have largely lost my taste for them.

        It's not just the oak, but I also don't much appreciate malolactic fermentation anymore. To my mouth, it sacrifices structure for butteryness.

        Partly it is economics. Even when I was a chard lover, I felt like a satisfactory bottle cost more than a satisfactory bottle of another white varietal. And when I do spend extra on a wine, it is usually on a red.

        And partly, it is simply that I love variety.

        ed

        9 Replies
        1. re: Ed Dibble
          Chinon00 Sep 18, 2006 03:26 PM

          Again just for clarity it is important to understand that the chardonnay grape varietal (as with all varietals) should be viewed as more of a medium through which the terrior and the vintner expresses him/herself. Use of oak and/or malolactic for example is a choice made by the vintner much like salt and pepper is used by a chef.
          Chardonnay is not a “flavor” just like egg is not a flavor. Eggs can be used to make flan, omelets, etc; all which taste different yet are all egg based.
          There is much "variety" within the "Chardonnay" category which I think was the point of this whole exercise.

          Enjoy

          1. re: Chinon00
            Robert Lauriston Sep 18, 2006 04:03 PM

            Chardonnay has a definite varietal character. Winemakers can lose it by overoaking and so on.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Chinon00 Sep 18, 2006 05:12 PM

              What is your opinion of terriors place in this whole discussion: composition of the soil, altitude, slope, temperature, rainfall. How much can this influence "varietal character" in your opinion?

              1. re: Chinon00
                Robert Lauriston Sep 18, 2006 05:59 PM

                Varietal character is the nature of the grape. Like any fruit it's affected by everything in the plant's environment. How much that influences the finished wine is largely up to the winemaker--if it's overoaked and overly alcoholic, the terroir can be muted or entirely obscured.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston
                Chinon00 Sep 19, 2006 02:58 AM

                True, by using oak and malolactic fermentation you might be able to approximate an "American" style Chardonnay with grapes even from say the Chablis region. But due to terrior you definitely cannot make a wine which tastes like Chablis from Chardonnay grapes grown in say Napa or other warmer climates.

                1. re: Chinon00
                  Robert Lauriston Sep 19, 2006 05:10 PM

                  To some extent that's a matter of when you pick.

                  There are a lot of factors that make good Chablis distinctive, but the main reason you don't find much California chardonnay in that style is that few winemakers are trying to make it. They're mostly aiming for Meursault.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Chinon00 Sep 20, 2006 02:29 AM

                  I'll tell you this in closing. Left naked (i.e. without oak or malolactic) Chardonnay grown in different countries and in different regions of countries can take on unique flavor profiles which can be appreciated as separate entities.

                  1. re: Chinon00
                    Robert Lauriston Sep 20, 2006 09:47 PM

                    I've certainly had a wide range of flavors in unoaked chardonnays from different countries, even different wineries in the same region. I wouldn't say "unique" or "separate," since the varietal character always came through.

                3. re: Chinon00
                  Ed Dibble Sep 20, 2006 08:11 PM

                  Your point is well taken. But these days so few wines truly express a terrior as they are blends and many vintners seem to want to make generic wines. Also, many vineyards don't seem to possess a distinctive terrior (or at least not a good and distinctive one).

                  I do want to try a real Chablis sometime, if I find one that I can afford.

                  I just wanted to add that I have appreciated your comments and ideas. I know that they are thoughtful and well intended.

                  ed

              3. r
                RCC Sep 16, 2006 02:30 PM

                Favorite white varietals?

                At present, that would be Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc (Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" 2002 and 2003 are very good if you can find for <$30) and terrific riesling from Alsace (try Dom. Ehrhart Schlossberg 2001 and 2003).

                A craving for California chardonnay still occurs every once in a while. But the more Burgundian the style, the better. Varner wines, especially the Home or the Amphitheater Block chardonnays from the Santa Cruz mountains, are our current home favorites.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RCC
                  Robert Lauriston Sep 16, 2006 04:55 PM

                  Chateauneuf-du-Pape is not a varietal but a region. CdP whites are usually blends and may contain bourboulenc, clairette, grenache blanc, picpoul, picardin, and/or roussanne. The Vieux Telegraphe 2003 is 40% clairette, 30% grenache blanc, 15% bourboulenc, and 15% roussanne.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    r
                    RCC Sep 16, 2006 05:42 PM

                    "Varietals" was the operative word and just so you'd know, CdP whites are simply, and always, referred to as Chateauneuf-d-P blancs, as different producers in different vintages may have different grape varieties in them.
                    That is why I made sure to include the year and the specific bottling "La Crau", as well as the word "blanc".

                    You obviously have done some research on the wine. I'm sure Monsieur Daniel Brunier (always a most generous host and a graceful visitor) would be impressed with you.

                    1. re: RCC
                      Robert Lauriston Sep 16, 2006 06:00 PM

                      Other people reading the forum won't necessarily know that CdP blancs are usually blends of several obscure varietals and that those blends vary radically among the region's wineries.

                      Beaucastel, for example, uses 80% roussanne and 20% grenache blanc in its regular blanc, 100% roussanne in the "Vieilles Vignes," so those are pretty radically different wines.

                2. s
                  Scottydog Sep 14, 2006 07:42 AM

                  I went through a strong ABC phase for a while, especially ones from California. Within the last six months I have had several really good Chards from CA and Austrailia (I never turned my back on white Burgundy). I am not sure if it is a function of my ever evolving tastes, winemakers learning that more oak is not neccessarily better, or both. Maybe someday I will remember why I once really liked Zinfandel.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Scottydog
                    Robert Lauriston Sep 14, 2006 05:02 PM

                    That deserves its own topic.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      s
                      Scottydog Sep 14, 2006 10:03 PM

                      Amen.

                  2. d
                    detlefchef Sep 8, 2006 07:58 PM

                    Universal panning of a varietal is as unfortunate as people blindly following the same. Chard was never going to save the world 20 years ago just like it's not the anti-christ now. All I know is that I was fortunate enough to taste 2000 Gaja and Rey Chard and 95 Ramonet Bienvenue Batard Montrachet this week and would like to remind everyone that, yes, Chardonnay can be glorious.

                    There's even plenty of good stuff to be had for more reasonable budgets.

                    The funny thing I've been waiting for the same price drop to hit that grape as did Merlot after the dogmatic consumer correction that happened after Sideways. I'm being offered amazing Merlots for nothing daily but the high-end Chard market has held pretty firm. You know there's a glut of it out there because they're still holding it over your head..."You can have a case of Cloudy Bay Sauv Blanc or Cult Cab X if you buy 5 cases of the chard" etc.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: detlefchef
                      c
                      Chris Weber Sep 8, 2006 11:17 PM

                      I agree with your post on the thoughts on Chard in general.

                      IMHO, there's a lot more high-end Chardonnay in the world than Merlot. I think Merlot just needs a better site to excel (I'm thinking about Petrus, for example), whereas Chardonnay can be good in a phenomenal amount of places, and great in quite a few as well.

                      As far as the Sideways effect is concerned, at the same time as that movie panned merlot, they promoted pinot noir. And that effect is still alive and well. Who is suggesting a white wine grape in place of Chardonnay?

                      1. re: Chris Weber
                        Bill Hunt Sep 8, 2006 11:27 PM

                        I think he WAS referencing the CB SB, not their Chard. As for the sites for Merlot, I believe that the accountants dictated where much of it was planted - anywhere it would grow, because it was selling to beat the band. I know many vineyard owners, who were pressured by their bankers, and by their "boards," to rip out everything, and just plant Merlot, because it would sell, regardless of the quality. It's a fairly easy grape to grow, and then to make wine from - though not usually great wine. I was soon over-planted, and over-harvested, just to meet the demand, primarily US. Many a winemaker sold their soul to the devil, the accountants and bankers, for the $.

                        Chardonnay saw some of the same fate, but the mid-price Chards were better wines that much of the mid-priced Merlots, IMO. The "Sideways" shakeout had to come, though by the hand of a little flick amazed me. PN could just as easily fall into trap, though being a more difficult grape, may actually save it.

                        As to detlechef's comments, I agree. There are many great Chards out there and with many different styles. I do not, however, expect to see Le Montrachet in a price war, though one can hope. I still find most of the white Burgs to be a good value, considering the wine that you buy. Yes, I wish it were priced like Chalk Hill, but I'll just pay the price, and drink less of it.

                        Hunt

                    2. o
                      OliveBelle Sep 7, 2006 11:10 PM

                      My first bottle of Gruner Veltliner ended my Chardonnay drinking days. Since then I have also made dry Rieslings, Sauvignon Blancs (try the ones from Austria!) and other whites of that ilk my wines of choice.

                      1. Chinon00 Sep 6, 2006 09:55 PM

                        I do not have a favorite white and I've never burned out on a varietal. We all have a taste for this-or-that at times but I've never abandoned a varietal (or a cuisine for that matter) all together. What I have abandoned are wine producers and restaurants (despite maybe having pleased me at one time) that have either fallen off for whatever reason or that I have simply outgrown (e.g. 16% abv Red Zinfandel which I consider a novelty now).
                        I've noticed that as my wine tastes have matured I enjoyed more subtle wines (i.e. generally I drink less reds and more whites now). Also I'm gravitating and becoming more sensitive to fresh and/or well preserved wines and beer. I almost exclusively purchase wine from local growers in my region (Southeastern Pennsylvania) and drink and purchase beer at nearby brew pubs. For those in the area I recommend the following Bucks County wineries and wines in particular:
                        1) Peace Valley Chardonnay - Peachy, melony, yet delicate. Beautiful. Fooled me for a rounder sauvignon blanc at first.
                        2) Rushland Cabernet Franc - Austere yet has good fruit and overall a good example of Cab Franc.
                        3) New Hope Solebury White - Combination of Vidal Blanc and Villard Blanc. Nice answer to Pinot Grigio. Again delicate, floral and almondy.
                        4) Sand Castle Pinot Noir - Simply put, for a tough varietal (and from Pennsylvania) this is well made wine.

                        1. p
                          phattychef Sep 6, 2006 05:28 AM

                          Just a few suggestions to get out of the realm of Chardonnay:

                          1) Falanghina - The old grape from Campagnia in Italy. Feudi revitalized this region and this fairly cheap white is great with food from light pasta to some heavy meats. This is typically (if on a list) the wine I will start my meal with before I move on to a red.

                          2) If you dig New Zealand style Sauv Blanc, have a history of California white in you---switch over again to the Italian and search out for Italian Sauv Blancs. Can be difficult to find but Gaja's Sauv Blanc "Alteni Di Brassica" pretty much changed my view on all Sauv Blancs....Of course, I was in Barbaressco at the time. Best way I could describe it--it had the great qualities of California SB and New Zealand SB combined.

                          3) A few have already mentioned it...but go back to Chardonnay's roots and really get into the diversity of the regions of Burgundy and note the difference in the terroir in each. A Chassagne-Montrachet is considerably different from a Puligny-Montrachet and they are pretty much nextdoor to each other. Even better, drop a load on a Grand Cru just to give your palate a whack and show you how great the grape can be. Most of Califonia's Chard are the typical over oaked, butter wines that we are used to...however just like Bill Hunt's post one of my favorite Chards would have to be Ridge's Home Ranch Chard.<---in my opinion very burgundian in style.

                          Anyhow, to answer-great chardonnay is out there.

                          Thats my take,
                          Cheers.

                          1. b
                            bogie Sep 6, 2006 04:12 AM

                            Before I became a trained sommelier, I was an insufferable red wine snob. I craved big, bold Napa Valley Cabs punctuated by the occasional over-oaked Chard.

                            My sommelier classes really re-opened my eyes to the vast world of white wines available.

                            In general, I find that no longer enjoy the bruiser wines such as Napa Cabs, Aussie Shiraz and Gooseberry-packed NZ Sav Blancs.

                            I now enjoy the subtleties of a great Pinot or Rhone red. My favorite white wines are Napa Sav Blancs, Rieslings from everywhere and more fragrant and floral numbers such as Albarhino, Malvasia Bianca and the better quality Verdicchio. Semillon from Australia continues to amaze and make me wonder why consumers just don't get them, they age so well!

                            Recently, I toured the Prince Edward County wine region in Ontario, a real up and comer. I discovered an unbelievably tasty unoaked Chardonnay from Closson-Chase Vineyards called "Sans Chene". It made me remember how truly great Chardonnay can be when it's unoaked and left to express it's varietal character.

                            1. t
                              tdo ca Sep 6, 2006 03:53 AM

                              I had a similar experience over the course of a decade, wherein I stopped drinking chardonnay altogether - still enjoyed whites, and ventured through pinot grigios and s. blancs before getting to know Alsatian, German, and Austrian wines better, and they, along with some Loires, continue to work for me

                              1. Fresser Sep 6, 2006 03:00 AM

                                Drink Reds....they're better for you!

                                1. Bill Hunt Sep 6, 2006 02:53 AM

                                  Quote: “In any case, my experience with Chardonnay leads me to ask you other hounds out there if you've had similar experiences to mine. Have your views of a varietal ever changed dramatically? Have you ever burned out on a grape varietal? How do you feel about Chardonnay? What are your favorite white varietals?”

                                  1 & 3. Yes. My views of Chardonnay have changed over the last few decades. When my wife introduced it to me, I found the domestic (US) versions interesting, and drinkable. Over the years, I lost interest to a degree, until I discovered white Burgundy. I had experienced some other iterations of Chard, like Pouilly-Fuissé, and was left underwhelmed. Then a 1er Cru Meursault stole my heart. I added Corton and Montrachet, and a love affair was started. For the last twenty years, I probably have consumed more white Burgundy, than any version of Chard. I find it to be far more food-friendly, than many other whites and much more so than the majority of the domestic versions. That’s not to say that I don’t drink US Chard - I’m sipping a glass of ‘04 Chateau St Jean, Robert Young Vineyard, right now. However, unless we’re having lobster, or a fish in a buttery, white sauce, I find that most US Chards are better as sippers, than as food wines. As a point of reference, there must be some reason that the Chardonnay and Riesling grapes are considered the two “Noble” grapes amongst the whites.

                                  2. No. I have wines that were at the top of my list 30 years ago, and they are still there. Sure, some vintages are not keepers, but in general, I still like what I liked near the beginning. However, I never stop exploring other varietals, and other areas of production, finding so many real gems, that I will never stop trying everything that I can. I try to not form a negative opinion, based on just a few samples, and will pick up a few bottles that come highly recommended, regardless of my past experiences. I’m still trying Chilean wines, though of the many dozen, that I’ve had, there has been only one, that I would buy again - Santa Rita, Casa Real (Cab), and I’ve had them from 1⁄4 to 3x the price of this one.

                                  4. Let’s see - white Burgs, Viognier (Had some very good US versions over the last few years. Some compare well, though differently, with Condrieu), Sauvignon Blanc, I love German Rieslings, and really like a few from Alsace, well-made Gewürztraminer, Albariño, Gavi-di-Gavi (Cortese) and US Chards for the occasion. Oh, and Pinot Blanc from Alsace, plus Grüner-Veltliner, many Loire Chenins and I cannot get enough botrytised Sémillon (read Sauternes/Barsac). What have I forgotten? Well, for one, I have yet to find a Sem-Chard (obviously NOT a varietal, but a blend), that I like. All have been from OZ and at several different price points, but I’ve never found one that I’d buy. Aligoté - I’ve never had one that I liked..Most of the hybrids, like Vidal, have left me cold. Albana - another one, that I’ll try again, but do not hold out much hope. OK, there are still another 1000, or so white varietals, and maybe someday I’ll have tried them all.

                                  Hunt

                                  1. d
                                    dantheculinaryman Sep 6, 2006 02:03 AM

                                    I also grew away from chardonnays and have embraced many of the wines that you mentioned. Of late, however, I have been pleased to find chardonnays that are more interesting. Most white burgundies have a more vibrant acidity than new world choices. Alto Adige, in Italy, makes some nice chardonnays. Australia has some unoaked chardonnays. California also has some unoaked options. Travis Chardonnay is not only fermented entirely without oak, but has no malolactic fermentation. The wine advocate gave it a 92.
                                    Is short, it is not the fruits fault that the wine is flabby. It is the winemaker's.

                                    1. r
                                      rtmonty Sep 5, 2006 11:26 PM

                                      We buy and drink chards, just not "mass produced" chards. A producer like Arger-Martucci. Dr. Arger loves French and that's the way his chard is made. It has acid, goes great with food, is not over oaked. We buy Miner Family Wild Yeast, made just like the name implies, using wild yeast. It's outstanding, not cheap but certainly worth drinking. There are a number of small producers in Napa and Sonoma that are making excellent chard. They know the complaints and are making adjustments. Don't give up.

                                      There are also a number of excellent sauv. blancs, Cliff Lede, Miner, Artesa, Calistoga Cellars, Groth. All are made in the southern hemisphere way, almost all stainless and if it sees any oak it's neutral oak, not new.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rtmonty
                                        b
                                        bogie Sep 6, 2006 02:14 AM

                                        I love everything from Cliff Lede. I'm especially proud of how far his wines have come in such a short time. Cliff comes from my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

                                      2. OCAnn Sep 5, 2006 11:07 PM

                                        My favourite white varietal now is probably the Pinot Grigio. Occasionally, I'll reach for sancerre with a meal or muscat for dessert. But I feel the way about Zins as you do about Chards. Zins were my wine of choice in my late 20s; now in my late 30s, I prefer malbecs and cabs.

                                        1. m
                                          Mr. Cookie Sep 5, 2006 10:58 PM

                                          I like chardonnay, but for variety I also look for these white varietals: verdiccio and vernaccia (Italy), pinot grigio (also from Italy, but I look specifically for those from the Alto Aldige region), albarino (Spain) as long as it's not too sweet, sauvignon blanc (especially from California and New Zealand). Some of the white vin du pays from southern France, i.e. Languedoc, is also quite good. Decent versions of all of these can be had for $20 or under.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Mr. Cookie
                                            Chinon00 Sep 5, 2006 11:09 PM

                                            I like many of your selections and I do enjoy New Zealand sauvignon blanc however I would also suggest sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley specifically Sancerre amd Pouilly Fume.

                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              m
                                              Mr. Cookie Sep 5, 2006 11:25 PM

                                              both excellent suggestions, love 'em. Loire valley reds from Saumur and Chinon are my new faves.

                                          2. Chinon00 Sep 5, 2006 03:21 AM

                                            I personally find it unfortunate when someone thinks of any grape varietal (in this case Chardonnay) as "one thing" or as a "flavor". Chardonnay (or any notable varietal) is at it's best (in my opinion) is when it is allowed to reflect: the soil, climate (i.e. terrior) of the region that it originates, as well as the approach of the individual winemaker. And subsequently (and fortunately) this can lead to different tasting Chardonnays. No one would confuse a Chablis with a Meursault due to their relative micro-climates as well as for the use of oak by the vintner.
                                            So by saying "Anything but Chardonnay" you are essentially (besides succumbing to media and social "peer pressure") saying no to wines which on one hand can be stoney, minerally, and lean and on the other be buttery, rich and opulent (and to some wines that are in between). It's all up to (or a reflection of) the climate and the vintner.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2006 04:40 PM

                                              I think anybody who's been drinking chardonnay for 30 years knows that there are a lot of different styles of wine made from the grape--but also that most of chardonnay falls into a few identifiable categories of mediocrity.

                                              Overstating a case is a rhetorical device. I often say "I hate jazz," but I'm not talking about Billie Holliday or Miles Davis. In that sense, I hate chardonnay.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                Chinon00 Sep 5, 2006 08:07 PM

                                                Over the past decade the American market (and markets beyond perhaps) has been inundated with flabby, oak-y, mass appeal styled Chardonnay from producers like Meridian, Kendall Jackson, Yellow tail, etc. One cannot find a wine list at a middle-priced restaurant that doesn’t have one or two of these available by the glass. For me these types of wines can serve as a transition from say White Zinfandel to more serious wines but they shouldn’t be considered “typical” examples of Chardonnay. But due to the price point ($7-$10) and their generous and obvious flavors they are exceedingly popular. For this reason (and others) they are considered “Chardonnay” by the general public when in actuality they are merely mass appeal styled constructs. Unfortunately too, much of the higher end Chardonnays, available to the American market relay a similar singular expression (bigness!).
                                                So I think that it is simply more accurate to convey dislike for this particular approach to Chardonnay than to make the mistake of expressing dislike for Chardonnay as a whole.

                                                1. re: Chinon00
                                                  Bill Hunt Sep 6, 2006 02:58 AM

                                                  I agree completely. However, on a trip, where we stayed at a casino/hotel, all of the higher-end restaurants had K-J as the only by-the-glass Chard (and little else to choose from). I complained to my wife over and over. On our last night there, we did the final restaurant in the resort. Oh man, was the wine list bad. I had to eat crow (not my main course) and state that for the first time in my life, I missed the K-J! Did that ever hurt?!?

                                                  With so many well-made Chards (US), it is a shame that that varietal is so poorly represented at so many restaurants, especially in the Deep South.

                                                  Hunt

                                            2. Robert Lauriston Sep 4, 2006 10:03 PM

                                              Good Chablis is around $30 a bottle, not what I'd call cheap.

                                              I've had some nice unoaked New Zealand chardonnays recently. Though for the price I'd rather drink Txacoli.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                e
                                                Elvis Goldberg Sep 4, 2006 10:47 PM

                                                Lookin for a good Chablis at around $30. Can you name any (and the vintage)?

                                                1. re: Elvis Goldberg
                                                  Robert Lauriston Sep 4, 2006 11:21 PM

                                                  If I wanted one this week I'd probably buy:

                                                  http://www.klwines.com/product.asp?sk...

                                                  1. re: Elvis Goldberg
                                                    c
                                                    Chris Weber Sep 5, 2006 01:24 AM

                                                    Elvis, Chablis hasn't had a stinker vintage since '94, and even those were ok in their youth. I named 3 producers above that you can find Chablis at or below $30.

                                                    Where do you live? Garnet in Manhattan has '01 L. Michel Montmains right now for $23.99 per their website. Ready to drink.

                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                    c
                                                    Chris Weber Sep 5, 2006 01:17 AM

                                                    I didn't say 'cheap' I said 'pretty cheap', and the Sanford Chardonnay that Phoo D mentions above is around $20 at retail. At my local store, the '04 Lavantureux Chablis AC is $21.99 right now before any discounts are applied. Louis Michel costs more, but he's better known.

                                                    The point wasn't whether it was cheap or not, the point is that it tastes different than California Chardonnay. It's just possible that Phoo D has an old world palate.

                                                    If you want good cheap Chardonnay, look for the St. Veran I mentioned which start around $11-12, or Macon is even less.

                                                  3. c
                                                    Chris Weber Sep 4, 2006 09:47 PM

                                                    I haven't seen you mention any of the Chardonnays I like. I never was much for the over the top new world style you've tired of. But here's a list for you to try, yes they are all 100% Chardonnay:

                                                    1. Louis Michel Chablis. Try a fairly young one. An alternative would be Roland Lavantureux or Billaud-Simon, both also from Chablis. These have little or no oak, and show the mineral style Chablis is known for.

                                                    2. A Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Yes, from Champagne. Salon would be special, but that's very expensive. So try someone elses.

                                                    3. A St. Veran. Some of these are oaked these days, but most still have little or no wood to them.

                                                    Now, for all of these, please skip the '03 vintage, that vintage was so hot it was like growing Chardonnay on the floor of the Napa Valley. And who would do that?

                                                    I've skipped Cote d'Or burgs, but there are still good Chardonnays out there. St. Veran is even cheap, and Chablis is pretty cheap.

                                                    At any rate, you see where I'm going - maybe it's just the style of Chardonnay you were drinking. Overoaked, flabby and overripe is the description of far too many new world Chards.

                                                    And no, I've never given up on a variety, and I like almost all of them, if they're good wines. I tend to buy by producer (pretty much old world only) rather than grape variety.

                                                    1. Robert Lauriston Sep 4, 2006 09:00 PM

                                                      I started boycotting chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon maybe 20 years ago because they had become such bad values compared with less-popular varietals.

                                                      It's much more interesting to me to taste a new obscure varietal than yet another winery's take on one of the usual suspects.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                        f
                                                        fauchon Sep 4, 2006 09:05 PM

                                                        Exactly! I can't remember the last time I drank a chard ... it was THAT long ago! I've heard that they've improved recently but don't know which ones to try. In any case, I much prefer a walk off the beaten path!

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