Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chopping Away At Chardonnay

From the New Hampshire Liquor Store Web-site  (March 4, 2011) we can see that Chardonnay prices have a broad range; leading the way with their LOW-END 28261 Nathanson Crk Chardonnay Calif 750mL $4.49, and ending with the Special-occasion wine:
28040 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay Napa 750mL $64.99.
I did buy a bottle of Concannon Glen Ellen 2009 Chardonnay for $3.99 on sale at  NHLS, and I will use this as "my" low base-line wine, although I did find Oak Leaf Chardonnay at Wal-Mart for $2.97 ( you almost can't buy a quart of milk for that price anymore). I found at Hannaford's, Night Harvest, Long Lake, and Crane Lake for $4.99, and Pinecroft is (March 11, 2011) 3 for $10.00, but don't forget that if you buy 6 or more bottles you'll get 10% off, same as Stop And Shop.
At Shaws I found Kanga Chardonnay for $4.49, and though I did not try this wine, I've heard fair things (Little to no finish however) about their Shiraz. Shaws usually has a "buy six bottles-get $5.00 off." That may have changed!
It is important to understand that this does not include specials like "Last-chance" wine buys at the NHLS.
When considering a purchase of a Chardonnay (White Wine) the average New Hampshire Chardonnay drinker is tied to availability, Brand or price, and apathy (I'll just grab something-anything at the local-corner-store), but if drinking wine is more than just an event of drinking something-anything, then how does one buy a Chardonnay that is both good and inexpensive?
I believe that this blog, which owes no company anything, will give you the best advice I can, (minus drinking the Wal-Mart super-cheap) and if you have found in the past that my advice has been rewarding, then my Chardonnay picks could be good for you too.
So, here we go with my second posting on Chardonnay
Concannon Glen Ellen Proprietors Reserve 2009 Chardonnay, $3.99, 86 points, was a good surprise: with vanilla (A little too much) and citrus under a crisp canopy of sweet-butter (A little too sweet), this is a competent wine, a yeoman's Chardonnay that will stand the test of dinner-for-two or for a Thanksgiving crowd; as a "stand-out" wine or as a stand-alone wine the Concannon is likely to fail, but what's to be said about a $3.99 Chardonnay, and at 86 points, what's to gainsay?
What can be said by this first review in this series? Just how easily I found a good Chardonnay at an incredible price; let me know if you've tried the Oak Leaf Chardonnay and what you think!
I'll remind you that this is an early foray into the Wonders of White Wine.
I do think that a youthful palate has its benefits: a fresh view, like taking a fourth-grader to the Museum-of Natural History: The Wonder of it all; is this too strong? It is a reflection of just how I've dived into wine, and how I find that the more I examine wine, the more I talk about wine, the more attuned I get, not only to its complexity, but to the natural gift I have for this exploration, the more "at home" I feel around wine and those that enjoy it.
Are there those who make fun of my presumptions and opinions? Well, yes, but just remember this: Steven Spurrier (1976 Wine tasting fame) said, "The results of a blind tasting cannot be predicted and will not even be reproduced the next day by the same panel tasting the same wines."
For some (Me) this is all about the exploration, but for some it is about just getting a bottle of decent wine at a decent price, and if you're not satisfied with just grabbing a bottle, if you're tired of the same-old same-old, then give a look here for an idea, for confirmation, or just out of curiosity what's going on in the world of wine in NH.

Okay, lets get to the next wine:
Clos Du Bois Russian River Reserve 2009 Chardonnay, $12.99, 91 points, is crisp, citrusy, refreshing in every way, having 14.5% alcohol without even a hint of it, smooth and sleek, and with just a touch of Oak it had wonderful drinkability and paired well with Chicken parmesan and Sausage-lentil soup.
This wine will pair with almost any kind of chicken, from garlic, onion, peppered chicken, and EVEN lemon chicken.
I bought three bottles, and if you were to be my guest and wanted to drink a Chardonnay, this is the one I'd pull out of my wine-cooler.
QPR can't be beat!

Cambria Katherine's Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay, $17.99, 91 points, is complex and more a typical round, buttery wine, but has a bit of a spice finish, and is "cleaner" than the Chardonnay wines to follow, except for the Chablis. Cambria is more on the peach flavors than the citrus, but they are all there in wonderful layers. This is a buy, but QPR is not as good as the Clos Du Bois, but is closer to traditional California Chardonnay.

Morgan Metallico Monterey 2009 Un-Oaked Chardonnay, $15.99-$18.99 (I picked-up two for $9.49 ea. at Stop And Shop as a missed priced idem), 89 points, is incredibly crisp (More Like a Sauvignon Blanc) with solid citrus flavors, yet smooth. At the sale price ($15.99) this was a definite buy wine.

Morgan Santa Lucia Highlands 2008 Chardonnay, $19.99-$22.99, 89 points, is balanced and pleasant, with subdued citrus, but round and smooth. As a very traditional Chardonnay, this is a good wine, but has a lot of competition, competition which in part is reflected in the following six wines.

Landmark 2008 Overlook Chardonnay, $19.54-$26.99, 88 points. Traditionally balanced, but QPR makes this not a best buy.

Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley 2008 Chardonnay, $19.99-$29.99, 88 points, is among the creamiest I've tried, but unless that is what your palate likes the most about a Chardonnay, the average price of $25.99 makes the QPR not so good. 

Baileyana Grand Firepeak Cuvee 2007 Chardonnay,
$17.99-$30.00, 88 points, is, for the lower price, a good buy. This wine is traditional and with well balanced flavors of citrus and peach-pineapple and the gentle-butter-smoothness of a good Chardonnay you have a winner.

La Crema Sonoma Coast 2007 Chardonnay, 
$16.99-$18.99, 88 points, on first tasting was exhilarating, but quickly settled down into a traditional feel and flavor of a good Californian Chardonnay, but at the lower price, once again, you have a winner.

Merryvale Carneros Vintage 2007 Chardonnay, $17.99-$20.99, 87 points, once again falls into that traditional category of rich butter and even a spicy finish, but with the competition so steep, not the best buy in my opinion
I have not mentioned aroma, because to me, they are so alike as to be the same. However with the addition of Joseph Drouhin 2008 Chablis (Chardonnay) I have to mention that this one is definitely different (Not as appealing as the others). The flavor is subtle with a lemon-pie quality, but ever-so light, as light as its color. This wine is clean and pure and reminds me of Perrier water with a squirt of lemon, yet layered like no ordinary water could be.
Joseph Drouhin 2008 Chablis, $19.99, 90 points.

I'm going with the Clos Du Bois Russian River Reserve 2009 Chardonnay as my number one pick.


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  1. I heard it on the "grape-vine" (If that voice wants to confess?) that Oak Leaf Chardonnay is not so good.
    So, maybe it's better to spend just a little bit more money to appease you gal or guy for that Saturday-night supper you've worked so hard at.

  2. Compare a Rib-eye or a T-bone, better yet a Tenderloin with a London Broil steak, serve the London Broil on a special occasion, and that's what you get when you serve Barefoot Merlot, $6.99, 80 points, instead of Estancia Central Coast Keyes Canyon Paso Robles, $11.99-$14.99, 90 points, Irony Napa Valley 2009 Merlot, $12.99-$14.99, 90 points, or Jade Mountain 2007 Merlot, $10.80-$15.00, 90 points!