Tag Archive for chardonnay

Review: 2012 Gainey Vineyards Limited Selection Chardonnay

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan. Something about the artificial butter taste turns me off. But we picked up the 2012 Gainey Vineyards Chardonnay at a friend’s party and I’ve had it sitting in my fridge for month. Then came a hot day and I was tired of beer, so I popped open this baby.

“Mmm, that’s pretty good,” were the first words that came out of my mouth. The super yellow–almost pee-colored yellow (sorry, but it’s true)–wine isn’t too buttery…just the right amount of smooth with a hint of vanilla. The wine has a full-mouth feel with longlasting flavor–think apples and melons– that kind of takes over and relaxes your tongue, almost like an anesthetic.


It smells like lemon bars and has a slatey/flinty bite at the end, which gets more pronounced as it warms up.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Gainey Winery
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Santa Rita Hills, California
Vintage: 2013
Price: $38 (Straight from the vineyard, but we picked ours up as a leftover from a party. Score!)
Alcohol content: 14.1%
When to drink: This wine is perfect for picnics in the grass.

You get free wine on Virgin flights to Vegas

I went to Vegas with some friends for my bachelorette party and rather than drive, we flew, yay! And rather than have to pay for wine, our virgin flight gave us a free drink. Too bad they didn’t have champagne. We opted for the only white option, a chardonnay, because it was 10 a.m. and I felt white was probably more socially-acceptable. If we were camping, I would have been OK with beer for breakfast, but this was my bachelorette celebration!

Now, I’m not usually a fan of Chardonnay, but when in Rome… This wine had a Food Network label on it, so it had to be some sort of partnership. It was meh. Tasted of apples and it was easy-drinking. Wasn’t expecting much—I mean, it didn’t have a vintage on the label— so it was fine for what it was. But since I didn’t have to pay for it, why not?


While in Vegas, I got to see the Beatles show, which was amazing, and even got a delicious Kahlua/ coffee milkshake from BLT. The perfect end to a fun weekend.


Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Entwine
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Dubiously just says California on the bottle, but it’s made by Wente Vineyards, which is in Livermore.
Price: Free.99
Alcohol content:13%
When to drink: I probably wouldn’t pick up a bottle of this, but would drink again on a flight to Vegas.

Review: 2011 Dillon Vineyards Chardonnay

I tasted the 2011 Dillon Vineyards Chardonnay at Silver Lake Wines weekly Blue Mondays (a great deal!) and it made me melt.

The creamy Chardonnay swims down your tongue like it’s a slip-and-slide of butter. It’s aged in French Oak, and there’s a hint of that in there, too, but the second malolactic fermentation is really the star here and va-va-voomed this yellow beauty.


This peachy wine has a bit of a sour bite, but I thought this tart apple flavor counteracted the butteriness in a good way.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Dillon Vineyards
  • Type: Chardonnay
  • Origin: Yountville Appellation, Napa Valley
  • Price: $21
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: Go crazy with the creaminess and pair this golden Chardonnay with some brie.

Review: 2013 Terrenal Chardonnay

My dad loves when he finds kosher wines, even though he doesn’t keep kosher. He brought this kosher Chardonnay to meet my other half’s parents for a brunch we hosted at our apartment–like three years after we’ve been dating. I know, I know, weprocrastinated. We ended up sticking to mimosas, so this bottle was left over.

We cracked it open this week when we finished another bottle of white, but wanted one more glass. We needed a bottle we could sacrifice, one that it would be OK if we didn’t finish and we could toss later.

I pulled the 2013 Terrenal Chardonnay out of the fridge. Now, don’t call me mean. 1) I don’t like chardonnays much. It has to be a special chardonnay for me to enjoy it (And I actually do have a good one chilling right now) and 2) I’ve had meh luck with Terrenals in the past. Although the 2010 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon was good enough to bring to a Passover Seder.


All I can really say is that the wine tasted watery. It’s made from grapes harvested at the foothills of the Andes mountains, according to the bottle. I already had low expectations, but I thought there would be some traditional tenets of chardonnays. But where was my malolactic buttery taste? Where was my full body? Where was the apple flavor?

So what zinger did my other half give when I asked if he liked it after I turned up my nose? “It reminds me of sticking my tongue on a Duracell battery. The aftertaste is just not good.”

He was referring to the wine’s acidity.

So thanks for the sacrifice, but we’re saying sayonara to the 2013 Terrenal Chardonnay.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Terrenal
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Chile
Vintage: 2013
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s
Alcohol content: 12.5%
When to drink: I’d highly recommend you don’t drink this wine, even if it is kosher and that’s an important factor.


Review: 2010 Hobson Estate Chardonnay

Off to Temecula I went this past Saturday to visit my other half’s childhood home–I’m sure you’ve seen my previous descriptions of this quaint property filled with all kinds of animals. Including this durpy Great Dane.


We hung out in the aviaries with the cockatiels–who are also my bird’s parents–and caught a glimpse of three Cockatiel eggs in a nest. We also ducked into a small pen to hang out with quails, which are quite fast and hard to catch. They had eggs, too, so it seems like breeding is in the air!


We sat down to a meal of fresh, hand-made pasta, which was really good (thanks Mario Batali), and glasses of 2010 Hobson Estate Chardonnay.


The first thing my boyfriend’s father said when he tasted the wine was ouch. The acidity in the wine made it kind of tingly on the tongue, which is not so fun when you have chapped lips.

I was surprised how spritzy this Chardonnay tasted. It had a light wheat color, which from the bottle exemplifies the cool temperatures in which the grapes were grown along the coast. The Chardonnay had a lemony, limy taste, but those citrus flavors transformed into a sour taste after the wine had warmed up a bit on the table.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Hobson Estate
  • Type: Chardonnay
  • Origin: Monterey area
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $14
  • Alcohol content: 14.1%
  • When to drink: Hobson Estate isn’t my favorite Chardonnay, but it would be great for a summer picnic at Echo Park Lake. I can see it now: a little pedal boating, a little sun and a little lemon-lime zest to wash it all down.

Reuse leftover wine bottles as vases

I love fresh flowers, but some stems last longer than others and when my full bouquet starts to wilt, I like to pick out the survivors from the vase and transfer them over to leftover wine bottles. So the next time you finish a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay, don’t save that clear glass bottle!

Check out the mini-bouquets I just whipped together:


I chose to make the bouquet full because I like it that way, but one carnation or similar flower could stand on its own, as well.


I love how you can see the varying lengths of the stems through the clear glass.


Close up!

Some tips:

  • Cut your stems at different lengths to add dimension
  • Use more than one bottle (two if you have candles or three if you don’t) for your centerpiece
  • Gather flowers of different colors
  • Put some of the same flowers in all the vases, but mix it up so there are more of one kind of flower in one bottle than the other
  • Choose a clear glass to make the centerpiece look bright and fresh
  • If you only have dark bottles from red wines, I suggest spray painting them silver or another color with some shine that matches your dining room decor

Paso Robles Man: The most interesting man in the world?

I know I’m late to the gushfest, but I can’t help but share this amazing video of the Paso Wine Man. He gives us the lowdown on vino variety, and let me tell you: it’s amazing. Come on, he compares shitty Chardonnay to a bleached out blonde beauty queens and the real deal to a true California beauty, stripped of the fake tan. What about Pinot Noir? It’s “earthy” and “ephemeral,” just like him. And real men? They’re not afraid of a pink rose. They’re afraid of the road not taken. And clowns. He even looks kind of like a blonde Kevin Spacey and he has the “House of Cards” narrator style down. In my book, he definitely beats Mr. Dos Equis. My favorite part: when he jumps out of an explosion, describing Cabernet Sauvignon as “brooding” and a “summer blockbuster.” What’s your favorite?

Review: True Myth Chardonnay

Getting kicked out of your apartment for three days because you’re complex is being bombed for termites is no fun. But getting to have a sleepover with friends who have bottles and bottles of True Myth Chardonnay makes up for it, at least a little bit.

This week we had to pack up all of our edibles and tote Pepita the bird to temporary shelter. On the first night, we toasted with True Myth Chardonnay, which my friend has in abundance after taking home leftover bottles from a work event.


A golden yellow, this Chardonnay tastes buttery and a hint of vanilla holds hands with citrus fruit flavors as the wine slides merrily down your tongue. Although it’s creamy, it still has a crisp brightness. If this wine had a personality, I’d say it was charming and pleasant.

A perfect pair for those cute cat coasters.

Here’s a bottle solo shot:



Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: True Myth
  • Type: Chardonnay
  • Origin: Edna Valley
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $18 (as advertised on the wine’s official website, but I found some stores selling it for $15.99.)
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: At a small dinner party with friends. Or you can copy us and toast with it before watching Jeopardy, America’s favorite quiz show.



What Millenials Want

Did you know 29% of the 39 million regular wine drinkers in the U.S. are under 34?

Wine insiders have been saying for the past few years that Millenials–those 21-34 year-olds like myself– are shaking up the wine industry and smart wineries should take note.

So what should wineries do to please this fickle demographic?

1) Get online, duh.


In Napa, where a quarter of vineyard visitors are 24-35, the some wineries are leaning on social media to tap folks like me. The Napa Valley Vintners Assn. hosts Taste and Tweet events that attract a younger crowd, said Patsy McGaughy. It’s true, I do find out a lot about wine through Twitter, and the internet in general, so I can see this working. The Association also encouraged visitors this summer to share their photos on Instagram with a pre-defined hashtag to win a prize. I’d also recommend posting on reddit, a Q & A style forum where users can “upvote” the best posts. I see a lot of wine enthusiasts on there, but few actual wine brands joining into the community.

2) Study says: Millenials are shallow


Yes, many of us care about labels. We probably shouldn’t, but sorry that’s not going to change.

We’re the generation that doesn’t just pay attention to other brands, we brand ourselves. We curate our lives on Facebook and Instagram (#mylifeisperfect), so we tend to pick up a bottle of wine if it looks cool, especially since we’re probably going to bring it to a party.

According to a 2012 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo study, Millenials prefer wine labels that are “brightly colored, less traditional and more graphically focused.”

But trying to cater to us can go wrong. I would never buy TXT Cellars’ OMG!!! Chardonnay or WTF!!! Pinot Noir. It’s trying too hard. They’re wines my dad would buy me–if he bought me wine, which he doesn’t– because it would be something he thinks I would think is cool. It’s like seeing your parents on Facebook. If looks weird.

3) Be different


According to the Wine Market Council, 89% of 26 to 34 year-olds frequently purchase wine from an unknown brand. That’s because many of us, including myself, like to try new things.

“Millennials have reached legal drinking age at a time when more wines from more countries are available than ever before. So it’s not surprising that their tastes are adventurous as they explore and form their own preferences,” said David McIntyre, in a Washington Post food column this week about a 27-year-old and a 25-year-old who set up a pop-up wine bar in a parking lot in DC. 

Peter Eastlake at Vintage Berkeley is benefitting from that trend at his wine store near University of California Berkeley. He’s been buying and selling wine for a long time and he’s noticed that rather than going for the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon, his customers want something different. They’re willing to explore, he said.

For example, I bought a fizzy wine from Slovenia described as weird, but great, at his store.

Blends are good, too. I picked two up at Area 5.1 Winery when I was in Santa Barbara because they were delicious and unique and I knew I’d never find them again unless I went back.

4) $$$$$


Price matters.

When I was in college it was $2 buck chuck all the time. Now, I try to mostly keep my wine purchases under $20. Many of my friends though won’t buy a bottle of wine over $10.  If I’m at a boutique winery, I bump it up to around $20-$25 because I know I’m paying for the small-scale production, the experience of being at the winery, etc.

Wineries take note: I cringe when I see $15 tastings. Even with $10 tastings, my friends and I will share a glass to split the price. Drop your tastings to $5 and you’ll make up for the reduction in price with an increase in traffic. And if you can’t drop your tasting price all the time, make it an event, a happy hour of sorts, and reduce it during certain times.