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Published on September 27th, 2011 | by Greg


Three Good Whites: Two Chardonnays And A Unique Blend

As palates be­come more re­fined, the vo­cab­u­lary im­proves. Tast­ing hun­dreds or thou­sands of wines doesn’t sim­ply give you more ex­pe­ri­ence to draw on and com­par­isons to find, but al­so al­lows one to no­tice dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures. At first, most wines of a va­ri­etal may taste quite sim­i­lar, but af­ter hav­ing quite a few you’ll be able to piece to­geth­er the de­scrip­tion from the la­bel and match it with what you are tast­ing or smelling. Even­tu­al­ly, you can prob­a­bly tell a va­ri­etal by taste and small and col­or, but even ex­perts can have trou­ble with this so don’t ex­pect cer­tain­ty.

Chardon­nays are a good starter wine, but are like­ly to be of­ten dis­missed for sweet­er whites or more ex­pres­sive and less sub­tle ones. To­day, we’ll start with the Do­maine Ste George 2009 Se­lect Re­serve Chardon­nay, a wine in­ex­pen­sive enough that any­one can af­ford a bot­tle but nice enough that oenophiles will find some­thing to ap­pre­ci­ate. This isn’t an amaz­ing wine- but it’s $8. One tell­tale sign- it’s ap­pel­la­tion is sim­ple “Cal­i­for­nia” mean­ing that they could have grabbed grapes from any num­ber of vine­yards in the area, though their home­page does say that the vine­yards are in Sono­ma. And while it looks nice- the bot­tle, la­bel, and wine it­self are ap­peal­ing- the nose is im­me­di­ate­ly a lit­tle nut­ty and as­trin­gent. Tast­ing it against the oth­ers to­day made clear that price does mean some­thing, and though this was a de­cent val­ue wine, al­most no one fin­ished their pours. Good for the rel­a­tives, per­haps, and per­fect­ly fine, the body is live­ly but the fin­ish is sour.

Up­wards and on­wards to the Stuhlmuller 2009 Alexan­der Val­ley Chardon­nay ($24). You can im­me­di­ate­ly tell it’ll cost you more, since the ap­pel­la­tion is list­ed (and is a pre­miere one to boot). The bot­tle it­self has a bit more char­ac­ter, and this is con­tin­ued in the nose- im­me­di­ate­ly up­on open­ing, you’re greet­ed with a danc­ing trop­i­cal fruit be­ing driz­zled in hon­ey and set on fire. That last part might seem odd, but the over­all ef­fect is in­ter­est­ing, and this chardon­nay of­fered plen­ty of smoky, roast­ed fla­vors with a bit-too-thin body that felt at odds. The but­tered pop­corn ef­fect was pre­sent, mak­ing some novice wine drinkers re­al­ly like it but oth­ers dis­miss this one. The min­er­al fin­ish and clean end made it good for pair­ing with com­plex foods, and there was def­i­nite­ly some char­ac­ter here. Our stan­dards are high for Cal­i­for­nia Chardon­nay, and this one was good but ul­ti­mate­ly un­mem­o­rable.

Last up, the com­plex and clever 2010 RGB San­ta Ynez Val­ley Camp 4 Vine­yard is an even blend of Rou­sanne and Grenache Blanc. We popped this one open while look­ing for some­thing to stand up against a creamy soup and bit­ter greens sal­ad course, and it did the trick nice­ly. Oth­ers have point­ed out jas­mine and hon­ey­suck­le, and we can agree. The col­or is bright straw, and is a sip­ping wine- there’s enough acid to stop you from try­ing to drink this one too fast, but enough earthy tones to bal­ance it out and make for a great evening glass. The af­ter­taste felt a lit­tle un­bal­anced- a bit too chalky- but al­most ev­ery­one kept com­ing back for more, mak­ing this the clear win­ner of the trio. And at $20 or so, it’s a good deal to boot.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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