Once upon a time, I was an ABC’er – Anything But Chardonnay. This stemmed from my general dislike for the California Oak Bombs popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s. As much as I appreciate the influence of oak in wine, I prefer that oak is an enhancer, rather than the dominant flavor. If a wine tastes like I’m licking the inside of a barrel, I’m going to take a pass.
A couple of years ago, I took a leap of faith and started exploring Chardonnay again, but only the Unoaked style. Crisp and fruit-driven, I gained a new appreciation for this, the most popular white varietal in the world. Once I understood the grape, sans oak, I have slowly ventured into oaked styles in the hopes my palate would expand to the point where I could include all styles of Chardonnay in my wine repertoire.
While strolling the wine section of my local Trader Joe’s the other day, I had to do a double-take. A lightly oaked Chardonnay, from notable producer Chateau St. Jean, for just $6.99? Without a second thought, into the cart it went!
The Bijou Chardonnay is part of Chateau St. Jean’s California collection. This is their entry level line, carrying the general “California” designation. This means that the grapes may have come from anywhere in the vast Golden State, rather than from a specific, smaller American Viticulture Area (AVA). Thus, there is not going to be a concentrated expression of terroir, but rather, a more general blend of what Chardonnay has to offer. Nevertheless, I found this to be a remarkably well balanced Chardonnay; fruit dominant, with subtle oak influences and crisp acidity.
Here’s my review, posted on Vivino:
For an entry level wine, this is a remarkably well balanced Chardonnay. Golden straw color in the glass. Aromas of pear, white peach, and browned butter. On the palate, flavors of pineapple, pear, peach, and tropical fruit mingle with toasty oak and just the right amount of zippy acidity. Medium body with a long, zesty finish. If you don’t like Chardonnay, try this lightly oaked version! It could open doors for you, and at just $7, you can’t go wrong!
4.0 out of 5 stars (88 – 91 points)
$6.99 at Trader Joe’s
At the risk of repeating myself…which I’m going to do anyway…if you are an ABC’er, give this wine a try. It’s only $7, so you really have nothing to lose, and an appreciation for this iconic grape to gain. What are you waiting for? Trader Joe’s closes at 9 p.m. Go!