Chardonnay Day is Thursday, May 21st.
That simple fact is rather amusing to me, but I guess it shouldn’t be. Just about everything you can think of has its own “day.” One of my favorite blogs is A Frank Angle, which is hard to classify (certainly not a “wine blog”), and he often posts some of the various “days” that will be occurring that week. For example, here were a few from last Friday (May 15th):
“Straw Hat Day, Day of Families, Nylon Stockings Day, Peace Officer Memorial Day, Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day, Endangered Species Day, O. Henry Pun-Off Day, NASCAR Day, Bike to Work Day, Pizza Party Day, MPS Awareness Day, Defense Transportation Day, Tuberous Sclerosis Day, Chocolate Chip Day, Sauvignon Blanc Day, Dinosaur Day, Over-the-Rainbow Day, Kangaroo Care Day”
Yes, those were all for just last Friday. The fourth from the bottom was “Sauvignon Blanc Day,” which, like just about every other self-respecting grape variety, has its own “day.” So far this year we have had:
- 4/17–World Malbec Day (I missed it).
- 5/9–World Moscato Day (um, missed it too).
- 5/15–International Sauvignon Blanc Day (not sure what is the relative distinction between “World” and “International” but I have no doubt that someone considers it monumental–and yes, I missed it).
There are several more over the next few months:
- 8/11/15–International Albariño Day (I love Albariño, but does it deserve a whole day?).
- 8/27/15–International Cabernet Day (And with that, “International” takes the lead).
- 9/18/15–Grenache Day (It is conspicuously neither “International” nor “Global” so should we even care?)
For the most part, I don’t “celebrate” any of these days. Why? Many of you probably think that I am incredibly snobby and that it is somehow beneath me to be beholden to such elementary marketing intended for the bourgeoisie.
Or something like that.
But that is not it.
Mostly, I just forget.
Yup, these “Days” just simply slip my mind most of the time, but there are two exceptions. One I am sure you can guess: Champagne Day is in the third week of October, and I make a big deal about it (actually, I just grab a better bottle of champagne than normal–don’t tell anyone, but we currently have just under 200 bottles of champagne in the cellar–I kind of dig the stuff).
The other is Chardonnay Day, which is coming up this Thursday, May 21st.
No lie, those are the two that I don’t forget and always observe. As long as I am typing out a few truths, I might as well add that I am much more of a white wine drinker than red. Don’t get me wrong, I love red wine, but given the choice, with all things being equal, I will grab a white over a red just about every time. In fact, I am not really sure what I would choose for my last meal: it would be either a bottle of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay (champagne), or a Domaine de la Romanée Conti Montrachet (not just the best Chardonnay, but the best white wine in the world).
Honestly, I do not know which way I would roll on that–given my proclivity for unabashed boldness, I would likely try to score both (“go bold or go home” as I always say).
Both cost in the neighborhood of $2000. A bottle.
Instead, I have a few others to recommend for Chardonnay Day this Thursday. They all come from California’s First Family of Chardonnay, Wente Vineyards. It was Ernest Wente who brought back the first cuttings of Chardonnay to the Golden State from France in the early 1900’s. Eventually, it was the Wente Family that made the first varietally-labeled Chardonnay in the U.S. (1936) and now, the famous Wente clone (cuttings from some of the first Chardonnay plants on the continent) have populated vineyards around the world.
I also have to come clean. There is another reason I am partial to Wente. Every year, for the past 28 years, Wente Vineyards sponsors a bike race in Livermore. A bike race that I won back more years than I care to admit. (OK, I am not entirely sure I won, but I did race it several times and back then I was a bit of a beast. The course was to my liking–a short steep climb with a 180 degree turn at the top, followed by a screaming downhill. So I am pretty sure I won. If not, I should have. Therefore I count it as a win.)
2013 Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay Estate Grown: Retail $15. 50% fermented in neutral oak, 50% in stainless steel. $15? Really? A wonderful nose of lemon and green apple. On the palate, actually very nice. A hint of oak, good fruit and balance. Big surprise here, I did not think a $15 Chard could be this good–that is why, while relevant, price is not the be-all end-all. Very Good, perhaps more. 88-90 Points.
2013 Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Chardonnay: Retail $22. Mostly fermented in new and second use French and American oak. At $22 this is another bargain. Cleaner with less oak influence than the Morning Fog (although this one saw more oak, curiously), this screams out for oysters, calamari, or even a nice crab cake. Great acidity and citrus fruit with a solid balance throughout. I liked the Morning Fog slightly better, honestly, but at $22, this is a solid option. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Wente Vineyards Eric’s Chardonnay Unoaked Small Lot: Retail $25. Four months in stainless steel. Bright and vibrant on the nose. Initially, this was a bit non-descript–there was just not much there. But it was too cold. As I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s latest shock-tertainment, I let the wine warm up. Big difference. Huge difference. A well-balanced, un-oaked style with an intense finish. This is really fabulous, particularly for the ABC crowd. If you can find a bottle of this, I would buy it (and remember to not serve it too cold). Outstanding. 90-92 Points.