Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Chardonnay can be a very pleasant white wine to drink. Especially if it's produced in France, South Africa or Australia. However, for some time, I have shared the Wall Street Journal's assessment of most Chardonnays that are produced in the U.S.

In June of this year, this Journal review of wines didn't mince words:
. . . U.S. chardonnay, especially under $20, has been lousy for a long time now. In broad blind tastings for this column over the past several years, we have been outraged -- that's not too strong a word -- at the junk that's selling for up to $20.
In an article published a few days ago, the Journal reviewers continued their "tough love" assessment. They wrote:
. . . our tastings have shown that [chardonnay] has fallen to a bad place in the past decade. Most chardonnays these days are simple, sweet, alcoholic and false.

. . . most of the [chardonnays] themselves weren't good good values at any price. They were tgoo often disappointing, with too much oak, too little fruit and little care. Too many tasted like stagnant water, like pickling spices . . .
You may think "ouch," but the Journal is not hyperbolizing. Far too many U.S. chardonnays are just not worth drinking. Period.

Last night, I tossed linguine with fresh lump crab in olive oil, butter, garlic and white wine. And I drank a French chablis with it. It was marvelous. Chablis, of course, is produced from the chardonnay grape. But the very name "chablis" makes many wine drinkers wince because their frame of reference is all of that cheap jug wine that California produced in the 1970s and labeled "chablis."

Yes, that chablis was lousy. But a really French chablis -- easy to find in most wine shops is very pleasant. And not expensive.

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