ABC Revisited 7 Chardonnays

I’m going to try to be generous and gentle, as best I can. I just tasted 7 wines made from Chardonnay grapes France, Argentina, Australia and USA (California). I really liked 1 of them, found 1 or 2 passable and the other 5 reminded me why I wrote a previous column titled ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) At its best, Chardonnay can be elegant, complex and even exquisite. A sublime expression of the land upon which it is grown and the hand from which it evolves. I have had excellent chardonnay based wines from nearly every wine producing continent, so I don’t think I am pre-disposed or biased against the grape. However, it has become so over-grown, over-produced and over-sold that the term “chardonnay” has become synonymous with slightly sweet, insipid, industrially produced plonk. But heck, I thought I’d give it another try, maybe even 2! So I gathered a selection of chardonnays from the above mentioned countries and gave them a pop. Each wine was properly chilled and tasted separately.

2013 Little Penguin Chardonnay, $7.80, 12% alc. Australia.

Floral in the nose, tasting of fake oak flavoring, pineapple and grapefruit. If served very cold, it is highly quaffable. Just don’t spend much time thinking about it.

2013 Beringer Simply Sophisticated Chardonnay, $7.75, 13.% alc. California.

Well, they got the simply part right. Crisp, fruity and fake oak flavors. Drink very cold.

2013 Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay, $9.05, 13.5% alc. Australia

Lindemans is one of the largest wine producers in Australia. Although they make a gazillion gallons of this wine, it is still a pretty good value. Tropical fruit flavors. No oak, nice and round. Best buy

2012 Septima Chardonnay/Semillon, $10.50. 13.% alc. Argentina.

The Australians created the 1st Semillon/Chardonnay blends. This wine is very similar, but has more chardonnay than Semillon. It tastes more like Semillon with notes of grass. Lemon and fig. Drink cold.

2012 Mondavi Central Coast Chardonnay, $13.60, 13.5% alc. California.

What has happened to my beloved Mondavi winery? Ever since it sold to Constellation Brands, the world’s largest wine company, their wines have had no appeal. Industrial tasting with a stinky, unattractive nose and uninteresting flavors.

2012 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay $$25.00, 13.% alc. California.

Normally, I prefer Sonoma wines to those of other regions in California. But this wine is simple and over priced. Very oaky with too much vanilla flavor.

2012 Calvet Grande Reserve Chablis, $22.50, 12.5% alc. France.

In the bad old days, Chablis was a term used for any generic white wine made in California. Just like the term Champagne has been perverted to mean anything with bubbles, Chablis had been misused and misunderstood. However, Chablis is also a region in France which produces a, sometime, wonderful white wine from chardonnay. Usually unoaked, at its best, Chablis can be a marvelous expression of the land and the region. While this is not one of the best, it represents a fine example of Chablis and, for the price, is actually a good buy.

Crisp, earthy, subtle fruit and great balance. This is the sort of wine which reaffirms for me the great potential of chardonnay. Best with crab, shrimp, oysters. Best Buy and Highly Recommended

M. Stefan has over 20 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively throughout the wine producing regions of the world.  His column is a regular feature of La Playa Community. He can be reached at and appreciates your comments.