Wow! Is this a great chard or what!!!
After four decades of drinking and evaluating wines, I still enjoy chardonnay. Even with the plethora of syrupy, almost sweet, over-oaked versions in the marketplace, I am still finding many that are rich, clean, and crisp. In fact, there seems to be market reconciliation that these wines can be pure and still sell to a large consumer base. Two weeks ago, I held a comparative tasting of 75 chardonnays, ranging from $15.00 to $60.00 (suggested retail price). With some of America's top producers in the tasting, the entire group of wines performed at a surprisingly high level. I had brought in some of industry's top tasters including winemaker Ondine Chattan of Geyser Peak and owner of Wine Spoken Here (a marketing company) Tim McDonald. When all was said and done before the wines were revealed, the group agreed that price was not always the criteria of how well the wines placed. One of the top dogs, was the 2007 Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells. Rich but not heavy, the wine showed superb persistence. Armed with flavors of ripe apples and sweet citrus, the wine stunned the tasters, first with its overall quality and then with its amazing price point.
Blind tastings can be tricky, yet when done well, very revealing. In this group with included great names such as Patz & Hall, Sonoma-Cutrer, Jordan, Paul Hobbs, Chappellet and others, there were no real surprises except that many of the top performers went toe-to-toe with the big boys. Of course, in many cases, the powerhouses hinted that they would gain additional complexities with time in the cellar. In the meanwhile, this star among stars may well be an indicator that producers have come to the plate and increased the quality of their wines at all levels, including making a $20.00 chardonnay taste as good as gold. From this blind tasting, we learned that we can be pleasantly surprised with chards that we may have passed on because they did not cost enough money. Take a stab at this wine, I am sure you will be pleased. 10 Tasters found this one to be one of the biggest winners in this competition.