Anything But Chardonnay

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Wine DivaWhen I asked a friend recently what he thought of Chardonnay his reaction was, “it tastes like rubbing alcohol to me.  They ruin most food.”

Well wine snob who is actually a beer snob, it happens to be the most popular freakin wine on the planet earth, so someone is drinking it.

There was a time in the late 90’s when wine stores were filled with mediocre Chardonnay. The “Anything but Chardonnay,” or “ABC Movement” began as a revolt to the ridiculous amount of Chardonnay that was being mass produced with very little character.

Bars and restaurants patrons were ordering rivers of Chardonnay  and winemakers started making cheap wine that was poorly-oaked. They used oak chips instead of true barrel-ageing that gave the wine a resinous taste.

Like anything made in huge volumes, the quality declined.

People expected all Chardonnays to taste like butter and oak and wineries started hiding the varietal character of the fruit.


Fortunately the Chards today have moved away from big and buttery to more textural. They have higher acidity that lends crispness and as a result are more popular than ever.

Chardonnay represented an estimated 21 percent of table wine volume purchased in U.S. food stores in 2014, according to estimates by Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates.

California crushed 718,000 tons of Chardonnay, and more than 54 million cases of California Chardonnay were shipped all over the United States.

The Chardonnay grape originated from a village of the same name in France’s world-famous Burgundy region.

The earliest known reference to Chardonnay wine was in 1330 where it was written about and distributed throughout France by Cistercian monks.

The history of Chardonnay began when ancient vineyards began cross-pollinating the aristocrats Pinot and the peasants Gouais Blanc grapes.

Whether it was a mistake or done intentionally nobody knows for sure.


The characteristics of the Chardonnay grape have been the same throughout history.

A hearty vine with medium sized bunches of grapes that are tightly packed.

The grapes are a brilliant gold once ripe but small and fragile with a thin skin.

The grapes must be handled very carefully during harvest or they will be ruined.

The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral with a medium to light body with a noticeable acidity.

Chardonnay has a distinct buttery flavor which can vary depending on climate and how it is produced.

karia label

This week we are tasting a 2013 Stags Leap Chardonnay Karia.

The Napa Valley Native Americans passed down the legend of a giant Leaping Stag that would jump from the rocks of the eastern hills.

When the white settlers heard the legend in the 1800’s they set out to hunt the mythical buck down as a challenge.

After stalking the animal for days the hunting party finally trapped the stag at the top of a ridge.

As they raised their guns to shoot the stag made a great leap across to another ridge and freedom.

It was said the stag looked into one hunter’s eyes with a penetrating gaze as he pulled his rifle’s trigger.

The hunters left without a prize but gained an appreciation of the magnificence of the animal that eluded them.

In honor of the soaring buck, the pioneer settlers of Napa County named the site of this encounter Stag’s Leap.

It is said the silhouette of the leaping stag continues to be seen even today jumping from crag to crag when the moon is full over the eastern hills of Napa County.



This graceful Chardonnay opens with aromas of peach and yellow apple.

It balances nicely with the acidity which gives it freshness.

I got a bottle for $25 at Trader Joe’s and it is actually more expensive online around $32.

It’s a great summer wine and pairs well with grilled chicken and fish.

Karia means graceful in Greek and this Chard has grace and elegance in abundance.

To learn more about storing and serving your favorite wines check out today!

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