Sunday, July 4, 2010


Albertoni Chardonnay

Bargains aren't too hard to come by in the wine world these days. Most producers seem eager to move their product no matter what it takes.  Some producers were way ahead of the recession game, having branded themselves as "bargain wines" long ago.

With the Bronco Wine Company, Fred Franzia is one of those producers.  With a seemingly endless list of labels, Franzia has positioned himself as the mack daddy of cheap wine.  The pinnacle of his success in that effort is the notorious "Two-Buck Chuck," known on the bottle as Charles Shaw.  I tried a Charles Shaw wine once, and found it to be a decent drink with little else to recommend it.  Now I'm back at the Bronco trough for Albertoni Chardonnay.

On the label, there are references to Napa Valley and Sonoma County. I thought Franzia sourced his fruit from the Modesto area, though, so I suspect this may be a marketing ploy, if not an outright attempt at deception.  These days, though, what's the difference?  The wine is called "California Chardonnay" on the front label, so one can surmise it's probably from neither Napa nor Sonoma.

This wine has a 12.5% abv number and cost under $10.  Compared to some of the other Bronco offerings, this is positively top-shelf stuff at that price.

It's a very pale wine in the glass, with almost no color at all.   On the nose, pear juice meets vanilla, as the oak is fairly apparent.  The wood shows up even more on the palate.  A soft, buttery sheen rides over the pears - not to the extent of obliteration, but it's certainly not trying to stay out of the way.  If you like your Chardonnay to be a lean, mean, stainless machine, then this is not for you.  Fans of the big, oak-driven "California-style" wine will probably think it's just fine.

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