Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Party Whites - Worth It?

The purpose of this blog is to educate my readers, to introduce them to new varieties, regions and trends, and to foster a desire for exploration of the world of wine. And occasionally, I learn something I wasn't expecting to as well!

Many Wineaux begin drinking wine at the very "beginning", say from the shelf of inexpensive magnums in the grocery store.  Last night I was reminded that this is not necessarily a bad place to start, and can be quite informative.

At the behest of a fine-wine drinking client, I bought 5 magnums of inexpensive, widely-available Chardonnay to taste and find the "best" example in the category that I could recommend for his use at a party.

I will remind you that 5 magnums is equivalent to 10 bottles, or almost an entire case of wine. Far be it from me to waste a drop of vino, so I invited company members from a show I'm doing in Indianapolis to also sample and weigh in on their own favorites. Actors are locust-like when it comes to free food, let alone free booze, especially at the end of a long week before a day off!

We began alphabetically with the 2010 Fetzer ($11.99), which was the most acidic of the group, and ultimately not a favorite because of that unbalanced component.  Our second wine, the 2009 Frontera from Chile, at $8.99 was the least expensive of the tasting and ended up being the group's top pick. It had good citrus and floral notes and a decently balanced finish.

The next two wines were similar in a few ways; both were value offerings from established Napa wineries and both showed some oak influence, giving the wines a rounder, warmer feel. While extremely similar in taste, the 2010 Stone Cellars by Beringer ($11.99) was edged out by the 2010 Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi ($12.99), which had slightly more distinctive components and 
was the overall second favorite wine of the tasting

Finally, the NV Yellowtail Chardonnay from Australia ($11.49) was the group's least favorite, as it was flabby and unstructured with minor fruit expression.

In general, all of these wines lacked much personality and would not generate excitement for most discerning Wineaux. However, the top three were perfectly acceptably quaffable wines, and the Frontera was an especially good find to have for a casual party.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that every single bottle was drained dry by the end of the evening! (See above comment re. actors.) And it was gratifying that I was still able to share some education with the group even with these entry-level examples.

I try not to judge people's wine preferences - only attempt to show them what wonderful possibilities exist out there. So I am very glad I had this unexpected opportunity to reacquaint myself with wines that an enormous number of people drink every day.  I just hope that all Wineaux continue to look for quality at every price point.

All that being said, my palate was patient last night, so I'm off to find a little something special to reward it!