I have been a chard lover from the day my dear departed Dad and I tried our first Chardonnay together when I was just barely of legal drinking age. (Never mind how long ago that was… none of your beeswax). I was charmed by the apples and toast. The fruit without the syrup. The generosity combined with complexity. The sheer differentness (yes I know it’s not a word, my snotty spellchecker already told me) from the white wines I was used to.
I’m not too much of a Chard specifist (I know, I know, that’s not a word either). I like them fresh and bursting with tropical fruit. I can love them big and buttery, nutty and intense, or redolent of a fall day with scents of apples and vanilla. Un-oaked? Bring it on!
So today I was in an unfamiliar store with a (very) limited selection. A few good, but pricey bottles, a lot of jugs, and one reasonably priced chardonnay which just happened to be made from organically grown grapes. This was a problem. For years now I’ve been afraid to try an “organic wine.” About 12 years ago I was badly disappointed by a few bad bottles from the local health food store, and decided to let the organically inclined vintners get a few more years under their belts. But here, with few choices, I was willing to take a gamble. I bought a bottle of 2009 Bonterra Mendicino County Chardonnay. I’m so glad I did!
Bonterra not only lived up to my hopes, it surpassed them rather surprisingly.
I think of Chards as the extroverts of the white wine world. They usually have pretty big personalities, and most people either love them, or leave them alone. This one was just a bit different than any I’ve had before. It displayed plenty of ripe fruit and some dreamy lemon vanilla custard, but it also had a crisper acid than I’m used to. Not sharp but clean, it added a mouthwatering juiciness while a intriguing minerality contributed a subtle refinement that is lacking in many chards.
Good job Bonterra! I’m not afraid of “organic” wine anymore!
I give it a solid 9 out of 10.
I rate it a good value at $10.99.