Now, I'm somewhat of a novice when it comes to evaluating wine, but I quite enjoy an oaked Chardonnay. There are so many fruity, acidic whites around (not that I don't enjoy them) but I find the richer flavors bring a level of sophistication and luxury to this varietal.
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I also enjoy it, but only in moderation. And that's the problem. Many producers take the "if a little is good..." approach and ruin the wine by over-oaking it. Cheaper Chards are often dominated by oak, which comes not from barrel aging but from the addition of oak chips (read "sawdust") to the vats, or even oak concentrates.

When all you can taste is the oak, the wine is not enjoyable, at least not to me.

OTOH, I often find that the very trendy unoaked Chards to be bland and boring.

It all comes down to personal preference, and that varies a lot depending on how the wine is consumed -- with food, and what food, or by itself.

Bottom line: Drink what you like and ignore the snobs, but also experiment and let your palate grow.
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Bottom line: Drink what you like and ignore the snobs, but also experiment and let your palate grow.

Good advice.

Because after you try the hundredth chardonnay with a lot of buttery oak, something else will seem really refreshingly different. It's one reason people in the business get to be so supercilious - the reps bring them one after another and then they find something like Grüner Veltliner and get all excited, not because it's so good IMO; mostly because it doesn't taste like another chardonnay.

Another reason is because when Kendall-Jackson taught Americans that chardonnay should have a touch of residual sugar and a lot of oak, that became the popular model and as they say, familiarity breeds contempt. It's all over, there are many such models, and they become like a commodity, hard to distinguish and sold only on price

But it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the chardonnay in that style and sometimes they're just what you want. Cheers.
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Originally posted by GregT:
quote:
Bottom line: Drink what you like and ignore the snobs, but also experiment and let your palate grow.

Good advice.

Because after you try the hundredth chardonnay with a lot of buttery oak, something else will seem really refreshingly different. It's one reason people in the business get to be so supercilious - the reps bring them one after another and then they find something like Grüner Veltliner and get all excited, not because it's so good IMO; mostly because it doesn't taste like another chardonnay.

Another reason is because when Kendall-Jackson taught Americans that chardonnay should have a touch of residual sugar and a lot of oak, that became the popular model and as they say, familiarity breeds contempt. It's all over, there are many such models, and they become like a commodity, hard to distinguish and sold only on price

But it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the chardonnay in that style and sometimes they're just what you want. Cheers.


Well, I definiteley look for textbook examples of good, bad, and otherwise to train my palate. There is so much info and opinion out there, I take it all with a grain of salt. I have a good sense of what I like and don't like, I'll just keep asking, reading, and tasting...
I was at a store tasting last Saturday (Wine Exchange, theme: anything over 90 points from WA or WS, and under $30.) There were 2 California chardonnays represented and for me they beautifully exemplified the contrast between just enough oak and too much oak.

2006 Londer Chardonnay Anderson Valley Corby Vineyards: Light straw-gold, nice pear/toasty waffle nose, very fragrant, good flesh & body w/balancing acidity, very refreshing and focused. The "toasty waffle" in my note is a giveaway that there was oak used, but it was in balance with everything else. 91 WS, my score 90.

2005 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay Alexander Valley Belle Terre Vineyard: Ripe peach, mango, buttered toast on nose, lots of butter on palate, narrow band of tight acidity, smack of wood at end turns a bit bitter. 91 WA, 88 WS, my score 86. Still not a terrible wine, but for me the oak came out too much and obscured its other qualities.
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Originally posted by Nurseyperson:
This is somewhat unrelated, but do you find that WA tends to rate wines higher than WS?

Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate would probably give a glass of water at least 90 points and a glass of Welch's grape juice 95 points! The man is absoulutely the worst reviewer out there.
Chuckle! My local retailer posts many reviews and I have found this to be true. There was a robertparker.com reviewed wine that, to me, wasn't nearly as special as the posted tasting notes (WA gave it a 91). I find the WS reviews are much more in line with my palate. Not that the critics have the final word...
I find my senses usually differ from others as well. I was at a tasting this weekend, sat with some seemingly experienced tasters (a couple who worked in the industry). They kept telling me what I was smelling/tasting, which wasn't what I was smelling/tasting! While I'm happy for free advice and certainly willing to learn, I trust my own nose and taste buds first.
There are a lot of subtle nuances that are hard to pick out or identify. That's why I try and keep it simple and focus on things like the finish, basic fruit, structure, body, acidity and mouthfeel of the wine. I might pick out red fruit vs black fruits but I don't have the palate or experience to go beyond that.

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