Tuesday, November 23, 2004

An Unexpected Wine Review

I had avoided buying Royal Bitch wine in the past, because it seemed like such an obvious marketing ploy. Obvious marketing ploys rarely mean good wine. More often they’re meant to allow novelty purchases to overcome a sucky product.

That being said, there are exceptions. And this very well might be one of them.

They had a little promotional tasting of the wine at my neighborhood liquor store this evening. I sampled on the basic principal that it was free booze, and found the Chardonnay surprisingly excellent – especially for an $11 Chilean wine. I picked up a bottle for dinner.

Technically the wine is called: Royal Bitch, 2004 Reserve Chardonnay. Let’s break that down for you:

“Royal Bitch” is the market-tested name some Chilean company decided would appeal to American wine consumers. We really are a crass lot these days. The lady walking the aristocratic-looking dog on the label barely allows it to qualify as a double entendre.

2004 is the year it was bottled – aging not being a factor in improving the taste of the majority of wine, this is not a problem.

“Reserve” is an interesting term in the wine industry. It means nothing. Not a darn thing. There are no regulations or restrictions on using that term in the American market. Sounds like it means this is the special wine, with the regular crap going to those other customers. But it doesn’t. Just means their marketing department knows "reserve" sells better than not having the word reserve on the bottle.

Chardonnay… now that is an interesting term. If you’ve been polluted by California wineries your entire life, you think it means a “heavier” white wine, full of flavors like “toasty oak,” and “melon.” It’s not. That comes from putting the stuff into oak barrels, and has very little to do with flavor from the grape. Chardonnay is actually a very light and delicate wine, with flavors sensitive to the micro-climate in which it is grown. Taste a few Chardonnays not aged in oak barrels, and you gain a whole new appreciation for what it can be.

It is this last element which attracted me to this wine. As I have noted earlier, Chardonnay grows darn near anywhere, but doesn’t taste very special most places. This one is an exception. It’s crisp and racy. Almost Sauvignon Blanc-like in mouth-feel. Notes of grapefruit, and pear. Delicate though. Nothing overwhelming. It whispers rather than shouts. This wine would pair very well with shellfish.


Blogger Gary Matthew Miller said...

Magnificent review! I plan to purchase a bottle asap.

8:36 PM  

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