Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay 2006

I was on a mission today. I was instructed to find a "buttery" Chardonnay for under £6. The default choice was going to be Oyster Bay Chardonnay because it is on offer at Waitrose, but I wasn't convinced of its butteriness. The reason I say that is because I suspect a lot of that buttery character has to do with oak ageing, and there was nothing on the label of the Oyster Bay wine about oak ageing, although looking at the Oyster Bay website it looks like they do satisfy this requirement.  (Edit:  I've since learned that the butteriness is likely to do with malolactic fermentation and not so much to do with the oak). 

After 20 minutes of staring at the shelves at Waitrose, I decided to have a quick look at the "fine wine" section just in case anything good was on offer. Luckily, this very good California wine was on offer for 1/3 off (£6.66 from £9.99).

Since the label mentioned it was aged in a combination of American and French oak, I felt it would have the character I was looking for. Sure enough, it did. While reading the tasting notes on the label, I dismissed the mention of "bright flavours of cinnamon-apple" as being poncey marketing-speak. I pretty much forgot about this immediately, and then a few minutes later after a swallow of wine, I thought to myself: "this tastes like cinna......". Oh.

Bonterra winery is in Mendocino County in northern California, and I can't resist reproducing this little snippet from Wikipedia:

"The county is noted for its distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, Redwood forests, wine production, microbrews, and liberal views on marijuana."

Back to the wine, I like it very much. I'm not normally a big Chardonnay fan, but this has the right combination of subtlety and secondary flavours that make it a winner for me.

Oh, and it's organic. I left this as an afterthought on purpose - normally I don't care about such things, but I've had a couple of organic wines recently and have been impressed with them. Perhaps there is something to it, perhaps not, but it's something I've begun to take note of.

Chardonnay 2006
Mendocino County, California
£6.66 (£9.99)

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