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The most fashionable and elite of the white wines. The flavor is distinctly recognizable and yet can show remarkable complexity. Chardonnays exhibit a wide range in character, from a light 'n fruity style to a rich creamery butter.
Wines reviewed to date:
- Belvedere Russian River Valley, 1991
- Brutocao Bliss Vineyard, 1992
- Clos Du Bois Flintwood, 1994
- DeLoach Sonoma County Russian River Valley, 1991
- Ernest and Julio Gallo Chardonnay of California (no year listed; bought 11/94)
- La Crosse, 1994
- Mazzocco River Lane, Somona County Barrel Select, 1991
- Wellington Sonoma Valley Barrel Fermented, 1994
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La Crosse (Napa Valley) Chardonnay, 1994
- Date Purchased: California Wine Club selection
- Date Consumed: 8/14/95
- Alcohol: 13.5%
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- BW: A standard dry and oaky chardonnay; perfectly fine but rather boring. C+
- SD: A buttery style chardonnay. Cool - cucumber and chilled pears, with an oak finish. This is nice, though it could get cloying fast. It's a little heavy to be wonderful as a crisp, refreshing summer wine, and it's too temporally uniform to hold my interest as anything else. Still, it makes a jolly good effort. B-
Brutocao Bliss Vineyard (Estate Bottled Mendocino County) Chardonnay, 1992
- Dates Consumed: 12/17/95, 12/18/95
- Alcohol: 13.6%
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- BW: Brutocao Chardonnay has an attractive clear honey hue. The taste is very smooth and warm, delightful. If only it had a bigger aroma. A-
- SD: Mellow buttery nose. Smoooth... surprisingly refreshing for such a rich buttery flavor. Butterscotch with a smidgen of oak around the edges. This is an excellent chardonnay. I am really impressed with the selections from this winery. I want to sample more. A-
Wellington Vineyards, Sonoma Valley Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 1994
- Dates Consumed: 7/20/96
- Price: $10
- Alcohol: 13.5%
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- BW: This is a simple and unexciting chardonnay. It's neither buttery nor oakey, but has mild notes of apple and pear. C
- SD: A very nice, buttery style chardonnay. I was hoping for something that was unmistakably smooth California chardonnay, and this hits the spot! The finish is a little abrupt, though; a lack of light lingering that leaves one longing a little. B-
Clos Du Bois Flintwood (Dry Creek Valley) Chardonnay, 1994
- Dates Consumed: 9/27/96
- Price: $16 ($12 at End-O-Bin)
- Alcohol: 14.1%
[Note: These reviews were written independently -- something we strive for in all our reviews!]
- BW: This wine can't decide if it wants to be fruity or buttery. It's quaffable, but needs to have an attitude one way or the other. B-
- SD: I bought this wine when I saw it at End-O-Bin in Louisville, and it stirred up passionate memories of great chardonnays from Sonoma County. Despite a weak nose, this nicely structured wine did not let me down. Hint of oak, but not overly oaky. Some butter, but not too rich. Fruit overtones, but not an overwhelmingly fruity-tooty vintage. This is a middle-of-the-road chardonnay that tries to please everyone; and surprisingly, it makes a reasonable attempt. The Flintwood plays it too safe, trying too hard to be too many things, but its elegant Dry Creek Valley roots do show through. B-
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DOUBLE BLIND TASTING on 11/94 -- 4 chardonnays. Price information was misplaced, but guessing Gallo ~$5, others ~$10 to $15.
1. Ernest and Julio Gallo Chardonnay of California (no year listed, but bought 11/94)
2. Belvedere Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 1991
- BW: Bright, crisp, pleasantly fruity. Pale and clear appearance. Drinkable! Rank: 3. GUESS: DeLoach.
- JG: Dainty aroma, anemic color. Innocuous. Gone with the blink of an eye. RANK: 4 (lowest). GUESS: Gallo.
- PB: Pallid in color and spritzy fruit on the nose. This wine gives your tongue the bums rush at first, then fades rapidly into the woodwork. I rank the Gallo last, of course, due to my superior denological sense of morality (NOT!). RANK: 4 (lowest). GUESS: Gallo.
- SD: Pale. Light - fruity - crisp. Nice chardonnay flavor. Brisk, like a cool autumn breeze with a hint of oak. On repeated tastings, seems somewhat weak compared to the others -- still tastes better than the tap water appearance would make you believe. RANK: 4 (lowest). GUESS: Gallo.
3. Mazzocco River Lane Chardonnay, Somona County Barrel Select, 1991
- BW: Rich golden color. Wow! Tastes of caramel. This is a rich wine. Very smooth. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Belvedere.
- JG: Lucious. Scent of a movie theater (butter popcorn) -- slather it on! Pineapple with the acid squeezed out. Fruity. Let's go to the beach. Apple yellow color. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Belvedere.
- PB: The golden color is reminiscent of the dairies I used to visit as a youth. Maybe ethnic? It certainly has a big nose! A creamy texture, like you could add it to your coffee. Pineapple? Butter? Pineapple butter? I like it much, wouldn't swig it - rather savor it. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Belvedere.
- SD: Much darker yellow - even looks buttery, like ghee. Strong aroma of butter, smooth. Rich, creamy - tastes like it should be thick with butterfat, tropical oils and calories. A tropical mood - pineapple, coconut, even a little mango. Time to rumba! Possibly my favorite but too rich for massive gulping. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Belvedere.
4. DeLoach Sonoma County Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 1991
- BW: Another pale and clear. Coconutty - is this the Mazzocco? It's fizzy and tingly too. RANK: 2. GUESS: Mazzocco.
- JG: Looks like water, smells like water. A nose brakes - where's the smell? Doesn't taste like H20. Subtley tart, has lingering zing. RANK: 2. GUESS: Mazzocco.
- PB: A pale gem. This has the fragile taste of an icy and frozen grape. Fragile, yes. And yet with nuts -- coconuts. RANK: 3. GUESS: Mazzocco.
- SD: An unexpected punch for such a pale colored wine. Much better taste than #1 - the first seems so pale in comparison. Crisp and tingly. Coconut. RANK: 2. GUESS: Mazzocco.
Overall Comments: The judges did an excellent job of identifying the contestants: all guesses were correct except one judge (BW) confused the Gallo and DeLoach. Everyone like the Belvedere best. Mazzocco beat out DeLoach slightly with better average scores, although most judges agreed the spread was small. All the judges guessed that their least favorite of the wines was the Gallo (and three were correct); nevertheless; the Gallo seemed to compare reasonably well for its price.
- BW: Darker and more buttery than #3, yet not so dark or buttery as #2. On the other hand, it seems rough somehow. I'd guess this is the Gallo - not bad! RANK: 4 (lowest). GUESS: Gallo.
- JG: Color - yellowish. Scent reminiscent of Arkansas wine. Needs charm school. Brash (relatively). Doesn't age well on the palette. If anything's been near an acorn (Indian food) this is it. RANK: 3. GUESS: DeLoach.
- PB: Beryl in shade. I think if I knew my terminology a bit better I would use the phrase jejune to describe this wine. Then again, probably not. At any rate the "green apple " schpritz is Aphrodesia... uh, Ambrosia, that is. I could give my mother this wine and she would love it. RANK: 2. GUESS: DeLoach.
- SD: Medium darkness; a buttery bouquet. First impression: warm, smooth, but doesn't have much to say... I keep waiting for something interesting to happen, since it looks and smells so promising. But not much happens. A good wine for when you're already buzzed -- tasty, but doesn't require a lot of thought. RANK: 3. GUESS: DeLoach.
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