Saturday, July 03, 2004

Wine rambling

Well this isn't a very auspicious debut. My first real post here, and I pick the topic of alcoholic beverages. What will my blogosphere neighbors think? Eh. The die is cast.

Anyway I have here a freshly opened bottle of Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay, 2002. Not something I normally buy - since I find most California Chardonnay about as interesting as pastuerized milk. But I do like to avoid the snobbery of assuming low priced wine is always swill, and this one was really inexpensive. What really got me to buy this was the snazzy new bottle design and a little advertising jacket over the neck claiming:

"Our winemaking team is ecstatic about the new Chardonnay. With expressive terrior and varietal completeness, this classic white has been redefined."

Wow. That's saying something for a six dollar bottle of wine. Heck I had six bucks on me. Worst case scenario, I'm six bucks down and still sober. Let's take her out for a spin.

The first discovery of this wine was that it has a synthetic cork. This is one of those things you either love or hate. If you think of wine as something you only bring out on rare and special occasions, the romance and tradition of the classic cork may be something you can't imagine sacrificing. If you drink wine regularly, you're tired of plunking down good money for wine spoiled by a rotten cork and welcome a some technical innovation here. Guess which camp I'm in? (*hic*)

Anyway I poured a nice glass of the stuff. Classic pale straw Chardonnay color. Then the swirl and the nose. And I smelled... nothing. Well nothing much. I think a tiny little whiff of vanilla - which isn't from the grapes but from the oak they age the wine in. Where the heck is the wine? My nose is telling me it's not there, but my eyes say it is. Let's leave it up to the tastebuds to break the tie.

A little sip. A little swishing around. Hmm..

Ok, points in its favor: it lacks almost every flavor I dislike about bad California Chardonnay. It's not over-oaked. It's not excessively alcholic. In fact, for the first time in years, I find myself terribly greatful a Chardonnay was oaked at all, because without that teeny-tiny element of vanilla, there is no taste to this stuff at all.

And that gets to the downside. I drink wine because I like the taste. If I just wanted to get drunk, there are a plethora of less expensive options. Yet here I seem to have discovered a wine only wine haters might love.

Compare that to the boast on the back label on the bottle:

"This cool climate Chardonnay exhibits ripe tropical fruit notes and bright acidity which is framed with layers of generous French Oak flavors. Sur Lies aging and partial maloactic fermentation have given it great depth and a long soft finish. "

This is a clear case of label mixup. That is nothing like this barely-detectable wine. If Pepperwood Grove ever gets around to locating the wine this label applies to, I hope they let me know. Sounds like just the thing to counteract the lingering effect of this bland plonk.


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