Blind Chardonnay tasting at Webster’s – the Results!

Truth be told, the point of this blind tasting was to outfox some of our friends.  Why not? As noted in our previous post, those of you with less experience are often more likely to guess what’s what than those of us who “know.” So we had our guests pick the French chardonnay from the two Californians.

When it comes to learning about wine, the important thing to remember is that it’s about accumulating knowledge for the sheer joy and interest of it. It’s not about showing off to your friends how much better a palate you have than they do. It’s not about how much you pay. In fact, there are some very tasty wines that don’t cost much at all, which is why you see that bottle of Charles Shaw Chardonnay to the left there.

We asked everyone to pick a favorite, but we also asked if everyone liked what they were tasting. Now, admittedly, somebody may have been being nice, but everyone said they liked all the wines. Which means they liked the Two-Buck Chuck. As we have said many times before and will say again, if you didn’t know you were drinking Charles Shaw, you’d probably like it. You wouldn’t say it’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk – and we’ve tasted some chards that blow Two-Buck out of the water and then some. But you would like it a lot more than you’d think and would probably find it a perfectly acceptable table wine for everyday drinking.

It was the wine in the bag labeled Number One that most of you picked as French. It wasn’t, but you did pick up on a couple characteristics that would normally point you in that direction, so pat yourself on the back if you did. It was one of the lighter wines (one of our guests said it had a rather flat taste), and it also had a bit of a funk on it that Anne often associates with French wines.

It was….

Gen 5 2010 Chardonnay:

This one is from Lodi, California. The thing about chardonnays from Lodi is they tend to made in that very French style and can have a distinctive funk about them, which this one did.  Mike also got peach and melon flavors, some nice acids and moderate oak influence, with a touch of lemon at the back. Very good finish, which means it didn’t bite back at all as we swallowed.

The Two-Buck was hiding in the Number Two bag. Almost no one picked it as the French – which means its Californian style stands out, but it was certainly the most popular, with about half our guests tagging it as their fave..

Charles Shaw 2010 Chardonnay:

The nose was very fruity and has some oak. The mouthfeel was rich and fat – good for a sipping wine. The flavors were white grape, melon and a little apple, with a slight touch of sweetness at the end. The finish was decent – and it’s pretty typically where Two-Buck falls down as a wine.

And lastly, the 2009 Emile Chandesais Bourgogne Chardonnay

The nose was very subtle not fruity. The acids were crisp. The mouthfeel was medium and balanced. There was some citrus and a hint of minerals or salinity in the flavor. It is one of those wines that would go well with some unusual sounding pairings such as salted caramel.

The Charles Shaw chardonnay can be found at Trader Joe’s. The Gen5 and the Emile Chandesais can be purchased at BevMo are part of their 5 cent sale right now.

Blind Tasting and Another Webster’s Event!

Yes, it’s time for another fun tasting event at Webster’s Fine Stationers in Altadena, CA. We’ll be there at 4:30 p.m. with one of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day wines – Sláinte, from Irish Family Vineyards in Vallecito, California. It’s techincally a white blend, but Russ Irish adds a little green dye for the fun of it.

But wait – there’s more.  Anne will join Petrea Burchard for a lively reading of some bits of Irish literature – something Anne hasn’t done in a long time, so she’s really looking forward to it.

But wait again, there is still more! We’ll also be featuring a blind tasting of some chardonnays, where you get to figure out where they came from.

So why do blind tastings? Isn’t all that business about tasting and discerning the varietal down to the vintage and vineyard a bunch of hooey? It is, but that doesn’t mean blind tastings aren’t fun. And there’s another good reason for trying wines without knowing what you’re drinking – you can focus on the wine, itself, without the usual preconceived notions of what makes a wine good getting in the way. You know, things like the bottle’s price tag – which affects us more than we think it does – or where it’s from. After all, French wine must be better than Californian. Or Californian must be better than French wine.

Trust us, with the ever-expanding range of styles and varieties out there, it doesn’t hurt to train your palate to look for certain things, not so you can go lording it over your friends, but so you can identify what it is you like and don’t like.

Nor should you feel bad about not knowing a lot about different wines and their styles. As we found out at a recent blind tasting, sometimes knowing a lot can get you more messed up than just simply guessing.

Webster’s will be open until 8 p.m. There will be a showing of art by a local artist. And there will be wine and corned beef. And lots and lots of fun.