Showing posts with label oak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oak. Show all posts

Monday, May 6, 2024

Don't Call This Chardonnay Cheap - Call It Affordable

Grocery chain Trader Joe's is a place you learn to love very quickly. Nice prices on things like wine, beer, cheese and nuts are fine, but the fact that the product is of high quality is a real bonus.

TJ's carries wines from a variety of producers, but the 2023 Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay is reportedly made by Castoro Cellars in the Paso Robles town of Templeton. Central Coast grapes went into the private label wine, which is unoaked. Alcohol is reasonable at 13$ abv and it sells at Trader Joe's for a bit less than $7. 

This wine has more of a yellow tint than I would expect from an unoaked Chardonnay. The nose is clean, though. Brilliant aromas of flowers, pears, peaches and apples come through with nary a trace of wood aging. The palate is rich and full, with fruit flavors dominating. Acidity is fresh and zippy, and nearly razor sharp. The fruit lasts on the finish and the wine is a perfect match for seafood, white sauce pasta or chicken.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Pour Some Chardonnay On My Popcorn

California Chardonnay- big, bombastic white wines full of oak and all that implies - is a style many wine drinkers have been shying away from in recent years.  The swing toward unoaked - naked, if you will - Chardonnays which emphasize the flavor of the fruit and the effect of the earth has left many old-line California Chardonnays holding the oak.

I'll admit: I love the purity and minerality expressed in an unoaked or low-oaked Chardonnay.  Burgundy found long ago how much was to be gained by letting the terroir do the talking.  There are times, though, when you want a Chardonnay to get all hedonistic on you.  For me, that's in the wintertime.

This bottle of 2021 Edna Valley Buttery Chardonnay (they put the hedonism right on the label) somehow managed to survive the holiday season, which is when I most appreciate a good, oaky, buttery Chardonnay. 

The winery folks say this wine is a "bright and creamy expression of California's Central Coast," and their location in San Luis Obispo County would support that. The label, however, shows an appellation of "California," so there are likely some grapes from outside their estate included. Alcohol tips 14.3% abv and the price is listed on the website at $15. I found mine at a grocery store sale for about half that. 

This wine colors up straw-gold in the glass. The nose, which I was expecting to offer aromas of a movie theater snack bar, actually shows more fruit than butter or oak. Meyer lemon and tangerine are most noticeable, along with a slightly savory salinity. On the palate, that's where the butter is. Citrus flavors mingle with the sweet oak spice. Although there is a lot of that spice, the oak treatment is handled extremely well. The acidity is fresh and invigorating, too, despite the creaminess of the wine. For pairing, think chicken in an alfredo sauce or a scampi. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wine And Whiskey, Not So Risky

From Modesto, California - the home of big-batch wines - comes a small-batch, limited release red blend that is aged in charred, white oak whiskey barrels for 60 days. The barrels were home to whiskey for years before having their way with Inferno, and the effect is dramatic. The press blurb says that "Apothic Inferno blends the red and dark fruit flavors of its wine with layers of maple and spice, giving way to a long, clean finish." Winemaker Debbie Juergenson says Inferno has attitude. "It may not have whiskey in it," she says, "but it's wine with a whiskey soul."

The marketing department talks about "defying convention" and a "rebellious attitude." They even remark that the label art has a "fiery style," which is like pointing to an open flame and mouthing the word "hot." The alcohol hits high, at 15.9% abv, but the price isn't bad at all - just $17 retail.

Speaking of marketing, I sent an email to Apothic, asking what grape varieties were used in the wine. It's a question I have asked hundreds of winemakers without being rebuffed. There is, however, a first time for everything. Their reply was cheery, if uninformative. "Due to strict company policy we are unable to provide you with the processes or ingredients used in our products as this is considered proprietary information -- our secret recipe. We hope you understand." Not really, but if you're that afraid that some other company will steal your idea of using red wine grapes to make a red wine, I suppose it's alright.

Apothic Inferno 2014 appears as a dark ruby vision in the glass and waves at the beholder with a nose born in whiskey and campfire smoke. The palate is also soaked in that boozy barrel, with the flavor of liquor coming through without the heat. The plum and raspberry notes have to fight for notice, and they barely get a signal through, although it does come, with an added hint of rosemary. Tannins are quite firm and will serve a ribeye steak quite well, especially one that's fresh off the grill.

As a wine, I'd have to say the wood has far too much influence, but that is by design. As a beverage, it's a wild delight, bringing together the best aspects of table wine, port and liquor.

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