Chardonnay Lives

While much of this video is deliberately tongue-in-cheek, there is something to be said for the increasingly common bored, world-weary denunciation of Chardonnay as "so over" (for the proper effect, you really have to say this with the inflections of the San Fernando Valley native). I suspect some of the decreasing popularity of Chardonnay in some quarters has something to do with the enormous popularity of the vine and it's reputation for hearty bearing. Certainly the triumph of Two Buck Chuck's Charles Shaw's 2007 Chardonnay triumph must have caused a few, err, sour grapes for some wine fanatics. But I forgot something, or more accurately, I was completely unaware of the enormous difference that terroir, the soil and growing conditions, and fermentation and wine production make with Chardonnay.

I confess that for me, Chardonnay has been the wine to avoid. Partly, I realize now, because I've been subjected to a lot of rather unpleasant California Chardonnays. Chardonnay grapes are one of the varietals that tend towards abundance, and in California, much of that abundance was pressed into inexpensive less-than-wonderful wine of the sort that offices have at parties. You know the sort of thing I mean. There's a table with five or six bottles of white wine, and one or two of red. The white wines at such occasions are, at least in my Southern California experience, mostly Chardonnays, and they tend to be acidic and tannic-tasting. I wouldn't have described myself as an "ABC" (Anything But Chardonnay), but certainly I wouldn't have made a Chardonnay my first choice in even a white wine. I have, in fact, steadfastly ignored the very presence of Chardonnay at Washington wine stores, since I pretty much viewed the wine as a waste of grape. Too acidic and "oaky" to bother with.

Well, I've seen the light; I had a bottle of Washington Chardonnay a few weeks ago, and it was a different wine. Had I not seen the bottle, I'd have argued that it couldn't possibly be Chardonnay because it was rich, full-bodied, and fruity without being cloyingly sweet. Just to be sure, I bought a second bottle of the same wine, and it was still amazing. I wouldn't have recognized it as Chardonnay; it was fuller, sort of buttery and rich, a little reminiscent of pear cider, without being overly tannin-laden. In fact, it tasted like more, and I am resolved to try more Chardonnay from Washington.

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