International Trophy winner Chardonnay under £15 – Marks & Spencer, Mâcon-Villages, Burgundy, France 2014 (12.5%)

A really lively wine with an expressive, pure, mineral nose which also exhibits a saline slant beside the colorless fruits. To taste, it’s zesty, youthful, floral and upfront, with overweight, persistent fruit on a finely balanced, distinguished palate where those crunchy flavours linger impressively.
£10 Inscription & SpencerA WINNING COMBINATION of tasty, mineral fruit and nice florality, with an Ancient World classicism at its heart, secured an International Trophy for this joint venture between UK retailer Inscription & Spencer and Vignerons des Grandes Vignes.
Victory came against a strong contender from Chile’s Itata Valley and a Petit Chablis from another French co-operative with a reputation for distinction.
This Trophy-winner is borne of a long partnership between Inscription & Spencer and Vignerons des Grandes Vignes, the Mâconnais co-op established in 2008 by the fusion of the Caves Coopératives of Prissé, Sologny and Verzé.
For the past six years, that partnership has been between winemaker Georges Brichon of Grandes Vignes and M&S winemaker Sue Daniels – working through some tough vintages in the administer, but always finding something fascinating to blend from the co-op’s 5.5 million-bottle annual production.
Brichon, a 28-year veteran of the organisation, is now in payment of three production sites, with the ‘fascinating if challenging’ job of pulling together some 120 member growers, who farm 550 hectares of vines within all the diverse appellations of the Mâconnais, with St-Véran a particular strength.
Together with Daniels, Brichon makes a rigorous selection for this wine from the best Mâcon-Villages cuvées, with each village contributing a different qualitiy to the final blend – from colorless fruit aromas to minerality and floral tones. The eventual aim is a wine that combines an expression of the terroir of the Mâconnais with perfect harmony. Just 32,000 six-bottle suitcases are made.
Georges Brichon of Vignerons des Grandes Vignes makes this wine in partnership with M&S
Tasted against
La Chablisienne, Pas Si Petit, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Burgundy, France 2013 • Pandolfi Fee, Los Patricios, Itata Valley, Chile 2012.
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Barefoot Bubbly Review

Barefoot Bubbly ReviewI’ve reviewed a number of different Barefoot wines on this site and it’s one bargain brand that seems to do OK.  I’ve never been really blown away by any of their wines, but they’ve all been quite drinkable and fantastic values.  That continues to be the case with their line-up of sparkling wine… none of it was exceptional, but it was all excellent.
So, what does that mean?  Should you buy it?  I would say that depends on how you’re serving it and who you’re serving it to.  If you’re buying for a party or wedding and your guests won’t know the difference between this and a $50 bottle of French champagne, then by all means buy this stuff.  If you’re building champagne cocktails and will be mixing it with additional stuff then this is a excellent choice — there’s no sense in buying an expensive champagne just to bury the flavor in mixers.  Or if you just want to try something different, there are a link unique sparklers in the Barefoot line-up that are worth a try.
You may notice that Barefoot Bubbly is labeled as “Champagne,” and you may wonder, “Can they do that, I thought Champagne could only come from France?”  Yes, it’s right that the term “Champagne” is legally reserved for wines from the Champagne province of France.  But, many US-made sparkling wines were using the term previous to the choice was made to no longer use it on US-made wines.  Those wines labeled as “Champagne” previous to 2006 were “grandfathered” in to allocate them to continue using that descriptor as long as the province of production is also on the mark (e.g. California).
Here are my thoughts on the Barefoot Bubbly collection. Read more

Summertime Means Chardonnay

Summertime Means Chardonnay‘Tis summer and that means it’s the season to delight in some chardonnay, pinot grigio, and additional whites.  I generally am a red drinker, but in the summer I do delight in some refreshing colorless wines.  I hereby start the next series: Chardonnay.
My chardonnay exploration won’t be nearly as thorough as Project Garnacha, only because there are sooo many options with chardonnay.  I reckon each wine maker has one.  Why?  Probably because of a link reasons. Read more

Bridgman Chardonnay

Bridgman ChardonnayThe first few times I saw this wine I thought it was Bridgeman, with an “e” in the name, but it’s Bridgman without an “e.”  It’s amusing how your mind plays tricks on you like that… and I swear it’s not from drinking too much wine.  The wine is named after William B. Bridgman, a pioneer in Washington state winemaking.  Bridgman was the first to plant wine grapes in the Yakima Valley in the early 1900′s.  This Chardonnay has no direct affiliation with WB Bridgman, but was named in his honor.
The Bridgman mark is produced by Apex Cellars in Washington state, which was founded in 1988 by Harry Alhadeff and Brian Carter.  Alhadeff’s background is in wine retail and distribution, while Carter has spent his life as a winemaker.  When Brian Carter went to Washington in 1980, there were only 16 wineries in the state.  Prior to launching Bridgman, Carter worked at Paul Thomas winery, where he twice was awarded “Winemaker of the Year” by Washington Magazine.
I wanted to include this Bridgman Chardonnay in my current series on Chardonnay, although I do have to confess that it wasn’t part of the blind tasting when I took notes on the additional wines in this series.  I had already completed that tasting previous to I recieved this wine.  I also need to release that I have a business relationship with Barclay’s Wine, who provided the sample and sells this wine.  You can read about that in this previous review for  Randall Harris Merlot. Read more

Chardonnay in a Box?

Chardonnay in a Box?Try wines that the average consumer may be worried to try.  I know there are some hidden gems out there, and I want to learn them and share them with all of you.
Today I tried something new: French Rabbit Chardonnay.  French Rabbit comes in a box.  What?  You in fact drank boxed wine?  Yes, I did.  I’m not one to get hung up on stereotypes.  Most people assume that wine in a box is terrible wine, but many also believe that just because a wine has a screw top or a plastic cork that it’s terrible.  I know I’ve had some fabulous wines with screw tops and plastic corks, so why not give this boxed wine a try?  And technically this packaging isn’t a box, it’s a Tetra Pak.
French Rabbit is in fact the next generation of boxed wine… or, um… Tetra Pak wine.  It’s a bit different from the boxed wine of the 80′s and 90′s with the spigot on the box.  French Rabbit is made by a companionship named Boisset America, and their focus is environmentally friendly wine producing.  From the farming to the packaging, they strive to be ecologically friendly and I applaud them for that.
Unfortunately, while I admire their environmental aspirations, the wine didn’t win me over.  It didn’t have much flavor to it.  It had a bit of fruitiness, apple and citrus.  But it also had a slightly plasticy flavor to it (I assume this was from the packaging).  Perhaps it was a psychological thing, but I doubt it.  I was in fact really curious and was hoping that I would delight in the wine more.  The largest problem was that the flavor lacks the personality of the marketing around it.
One thing I did like is that the package is a full liter versus 750ml.  The packaging is also supposedly 100% recyclable, although if I place this into my recycling bin with a bunch of glass bottles, I would bet money that they recycling truck would take the glass bottles and leave this thing in the bin.  I don’t know if I’ll try another varietal from French Rabbit.  We’ll see.

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Alice White Chardonnay

Alice White ChardonnayWell it’s back to the Chardonnay Challenge.  I subdue have a number of chardonnays to taste–and I haven’t even gotten to the naked chardonnay.  Sorry to the chardonnay haters out there, but I’ll get on to some additional varietals previous to too long.  I promise.
But for now, let’s check out Alice Colorless Chardonnay 2006.  Alice Colorless wines are from South Eastern Australia.  In general I’m amazed that there are low cost wines from Australia available in the US.  I would expect the shipping costs alone should drive up the fee such that they couldn’t be sold for below $10, but there are plenty of Australian value wine options out there.
The Alice Colorless Chardonnay is a nice set alight and pleasant chardonnay.  It’s not the best one I’ve had, but is is very enjoyable.  It has a predictable, yet pleasant nose.  Pineapple and vanilla flavors with a nice oaky fruitfulness.  I wouldn’t say it’s over-oaked, but those who don’t like oak won’t like this one.  I personnally don’t mind a bit of oak in my chardonnay and I reckon this wine has the appropriate amount.  It also has a honestly long end with a refreshing, crisp acidity.  The number came out to at $7.99, I’d call that a excellent deal.
This is a nice everyday chardonnay and would be excellent with fish.

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