Denigrating chardonnay is a minor hobby of mine, so I feel I have a responsibility to let you know when I venture into some chardonnay that is not just not-awful, but good! At a random Whole Foods tasting, I tried a Chilean chardonnay that blew me away, especially given its $9 pricetag. Carma Chardonnay (2008) is 85% chardonnay, 15% Sauvignon blanc, and 100% unoaked — a combination you don’t often find. I can’t really remember the last time I had a chardonnay that was blended with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc (are they natural enemies or something?), but this one is a great value. Look for something similar in your local wine shop if you’re so inclined.
Descriptions on wine labels tend to be so flowery and effusive as to be worthless, and they make me laugh. “Part tropical fruit, part green apple, and all elegance. It has an intense yet clean flavor of peaches, pears, and apples, with a silky texture and wonderful acid balance that leaves a long and smooth finish.”
So…it tastes like fruit? Gotcha. But this one’s right on the money. This wine is balanced (not over-acidic) and fresh (not heavy, thanks to the lack of oak), and the fruit punches you right in the face, in a good way. A lot of cheaper (pardon me, “less expensive”) chardonnays leave a kind of gritty, sour aftertaste, but not this one.
Anyway. If I can’t afford a gazillion-dollar white Burgundy, I figure I should give credit where credit is due: Not every producer is fucking up chardonnay.