Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wine Round-Up: Chardonnay & Pinot Grigio

"It doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is clearly room for more wine." - Anonymous

In five years I've written one post about wine. How can this be? How have I gone all these years without sharing some of my favorite wines with you all?

My taste in wine, like other things in my life that I won't get in to here, has evolved over time. I spent most of my college years ordering glasses of white zinfandel in somewhat sad attempts to be sophisticated. White zin was familiar probably because my parents always had a big jug of Gallo in the kitchen. We were also in Wyoming and let's just say the wine options at the local liquor mart weren't always great.

At some point, when I was in my twenties, my mom started drinking Chardonnay and it was all so tres chic. I was pretty burned out on the white zin  with all it's sweet pinkness so I started in on the Chardonnays and got hooked. In a good way. Don't worry it's not that kind of story! Let's just say I became a bit more discerning in my wine choices and the introduction of Chardonnay expanded my wine world. It was like a gateway wine providing access to the whole world of choice in the wine aisle at the grocery store.

Now in my thirties I have some experience, so I thought I would share some of my favorite white wines (I'll save the reds for later). Most of these can be found at local grocery stores, but I've linked to the websites so you can check where they're available in your area. I've focused on what I mostly drink in the summer, which is Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Disclaimer: I am not a wine expert. I have been known to buy a bottle of wine for no other reason except I liked the label. I did take a wine class once, but all I remember is that chocolate tasted really good with the red wines. The wines I've listed here are ones I've had on multiple occasions. I've picked a range in terms of cost and included notes from the winemakers - they do a much better job describing their wines than I do.

Here's a few of our favorite Chardonnays - a low, medium and high priced option. 

1. Cannonball Chardonnay
I was given a bottle of Cannonball as a gift and really enjoyed it. It's not too expensive (around the $15 range) and one that we will definitely try again. Here's what the Cannonball people have to say about it...

"Elegant and expressive, with a full entry that richly expands over the palate. Orante creaminess and expressive acidity harmonize with flavors of Pear Tarte Tatin, nectarine, marmalade and cardamom spice, leading to a decadent, lingering finish."

La Crema makes a whole bunch of different Chardonnays and we really like the Sonoma Coast one. It's a little pricier (around $20ish a bottle, although it's often on special at the store), so it's not an every day wine. Here's how Winemaker Elizabeth Douglas describes it:

"This vintage opens with bright aromas of lemon drop, supported by ripe pear, toffee and hints of jasmine, The palate adds flavors of stone fruit and yellow plum, with lively citrus notes. Sweet vanilla and lingering baking spice add richness and texture to the long, fresh finish." 

Cakebread sellars is pretty fancy and we have it on very special occasions. In restaurants it usually runs around $100 a bottle, but we've seen it in wine shops for about half that price. I noticed on the Cakebread website they have it listed at $36 a bottle (!), so we may be making a purchase soon. If you like Chardonnay and want to try something very special treat yourself to a bottle of Cakebread Cellars.

"Our 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay offers delightfully fragrant, slightly yeasty aromas of ripe pear, apple and guava fruit complemented by hints of honeysuckle, mineral and toasted oak... Bold and beautifully balanced, with great depth and breadth of flavor, our 2012 Chardonnay is a delicious expression of a picture-perfect vintage. It will continue to please over the next 3-5 years."

Pinot Grigio
Two of our favorite Pinot Grigios - an everyday and special occasion option.

4. Da Vinci Pinot Grigio
We can find  this at our grocery store for less than $15 a bottle and is a great option for an everyday wine. I especially love Pinot Grigio in the summer - it's refreshing and easy to drink. It comes from the Alto-Adige and Trentino districts in the Delle Venezie region of Italy. Here are some notes from the winemaker:

"DaVinci Pinot Grigio has a brilliant light straw color and a full, ripe palate. It is an extremely well balanced win with a bouquet of floral aromas coupled with ripe flavors of fresh apple, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, This crisp, clean Pinot Grigio finishes with notes of minerals and a vibrant acidity."

5. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
This one is more expensive ($25-$30 a bottle), but sometimes we find it on sale for less than $20 a bottle. It's our fancier option for Pinot Grigio and is our go-to when we have guests or want to treat ourselves. It comes from the same region in Italy as the DaVinci, but has a bit drier taste.

"This dry white wine has a straw yellow color. Its clean, intense aroma and bone-dry taste (with an appealing flavor of Golden Delicious apples) make Santa Margherita's Pinot Grigio a wine of great personality and versatility."

If you decide to pick up any of these wines I hope you enjoy them! If you have a favorite wine be sure to share it in the comments - I am always game for trying something new.

I hope everyone has a great weekend -- Happy Labor Day!


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