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Straight from the Vine -- Archives : Chardonnay

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    Inexpensive Chardonnay

    The 2008 Fess Parker is intensely fruity, concentrated in the mouth, loaded with honey-butter overtones, AND under $20. Match to fried chicken and yams with pineapple.

          In class I often extol the virtues of Sauvignon Blanc by pointing out there are several world-class examples priced between $15 and $19. I then exclaim, “There’s no such thing as world-class Chardonnay under $20!” And I do believe that statement to be true. At least it used to be. Which is not to say there haven’t always been a handful of eminently pleasing Chardonnays priced under $20. It is just that competition amongst Chardonnays has always been so much more intense than it is in other white wine varieties. In America, Chardonnay outsells both Pinot Gris (Grigio) and Sauvignon Blanc individually by a factor of four or five. Good Chardonnay can easily command $20 to $40 a bottle, and great Chardonnay commands $50 to $100. The only reason for a winery...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Feb 19 2010 9:23PM | 0 comments

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    Bodega Bistro, Little Saigon, S.F.

    Vietnamese, but with meat. Very sophisticated food. Break out a quality French wine. Red Burgundy would be especially useful.

           Bodega (website, 415-921-1218, on Larkin – two doors uphill from Eddy, medium-priced with a couple temptations to splurge) may sound like a noteworthy California seafood place. That’s actually Hayes St Grill, about eight blocks away (owned by the very talented food writer, and Stanford alumna, Patricia Untermann). When I tell you BoDeGa is a Vietnamese restaurant, you may immediately think of plates filled with vegetables. That’s not entirely untrue, but it’s helpful to know the translation from the Vietnamese language: Bo = beef; De = lamb; Ga = chicken. Vegans can eat at Bodega, but they can’t get uppity.
           Let’s not mince words here. If you insist on ordering beer to drink w...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Jan 11 2010 12:07PM | 0 comments

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    1996 Ramonet 1st Chassagne-Montrachet (Caillerets)

           Older bottles of prestige White Burgundy can be risky; this one was sublime – a memory like a night on the rug in front of the fireplace with a lover you’ll never see again.

           About $225 in a retail store. Tasted in a class at Fort Mason comparing quality levels of Burgundy.
           Employing older White Burgundies in class is always an adventure. They are very expensive, and most American consumers have never tasted an aged Chardonnay. So even if the wine is in impeccable condition, which is by no means guaranteed, chances are good a large portion of the audience is going to find it ‘strange.’ And then individual personality kicks in. Some percentage of the audience is going to naturally define ‘strange’ as negative.
           Personally I’ve always been a big fan of Chardonnays picked a litt...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 24 2009 1:13PM | 0 comments

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    De Tierra Vyds

    Monterey County. Two estate wines from certified organic grapes. Very good quality, bargain priced. Strongly recommended.

    Talking about how ‘green’ a wine is can be very complicated. Not using pesticides says little about the winery’s attention to energy and water conservation. Is an ‘organic’ wine from Italy still green after all that weight of liquid and glass has been shipped to San Francisco? Does your ‘bio-dynamic’ winery pay their workers a living wage? And do any of these matters contribute to good taste? How far can I trust claims of ‘greenishness?’

           It’s a thorny issue. We will revisit it frequently on this blog. But we will begin with a winery recommendation that needs very few qualifier adjectives. These two wines taste great, and they are both pretty reasonably priced. The grapes are grown within 100 miles of the Stanford campus. The vine...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Nov 30 2009 11:24AM | 0 comments