Thursday, January 17, 2013

finding value in California?

2010 Foxglove Chardonnay | Central Coast

What is value in Californian wine? Actually, before we get to that - I got the hiccups last night for the first time in years and it was horrible. Never laugh with your mouth wide open when it's windy outside, lesson learned. So right, value wines. California is tricky - it's a badge of honour to charge more than your neighbour for your trophy cabernet, chardonnay, and increasingly, pinot noir. But it's all a bit vulgar, isn't it, viewed through Euro-centric lens? Not to mention the wines all taste depressingly the same.

So what's the point of Californian wine? If you want jammy, goopy wines, why not just go super-cheap, some South American confection? Why must we pay ridiculous amounts of money for what amounts to character-less, personality-less, emotion-less wines? So we look at what we can find at the other end, if there is such a thing as a value Californian wine. And yes, I believe there is. The sweet spot seems to hover around the $20 mark. The wines, both cabernet and chardonnay, seem to be more honest - less interested in being impressive so much as simply bringing pleasure to the drinker. Mostly moderated alcohol and oak, which incidentally, reveals more of what the wine actually is.

The Foxglove, a delicious wine, one of the leanest examples of chardonnay I've ever tasted out of California. I don't want to say Chablis, because nothing quite represents that racy, steely style. But this shows full chardonnay aromas, with that acidic backbone on the palate. And if there's something that elevates a chardonnay into true excitement, it's that kind of extract and structure in the mouth. A wonderfully fresh and vibrant wine.


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