Alamos Chardonnay

Maker: Alamos, Tunuyán, Argentina

Place of origin: Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2008

ABV: 13.5%

Appearance: Brassy gold.

Nose: oak, lemon zest, thyme.

On the palate: Medium bodied and medium sweet. Brown butter, clementine, white pepper.

Finish: A little tart but fades into pretty heavy oak. Not pleasant, but not unbearable.

Parting words: This wine was the result of another grocery store shelf dig.  I hadn’t had a chard for a while and I was looking for one with some good age on it from somewhere that wasn’t California or Burgundy and this wine fit the bill.

It’s not bad really. It’s overoaked in the standard New World style, but not by much. I can see this wine going well with fairly standard seafood or roast chicken dishes. On its own, it’s a good enough for a weeknight or a casual chat with friends. The price is a little high for this sort of thing ($13) but it’s not outrageous either. My only criticism is the finish. Maybe a little less oak would have taken some of the bitterness out of the finish. Anyway, Alamos 2008 Chardonnay is recommended.


Trapiche Oak Cask Chardonnay

Maker: Trapiche, Mendoza, Argentina

Importer: Wildman

Grape: Chardonnay

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2009

ABV: 13.5%

Appearance: Bright gold. A very pretty wine.

Nose: Woody and creamy, a little bitter.

On the palate: Slightly sweet with a big hit of oak and brown (possibly burnt) butter. The wood is over the top and completely overwhelms whatever sweet or delicate flavors this wine may have. Its price would indicate that this is intended to be a table-quality varietal. There is so much wood here that it clashes with food and produces nasty bitter flavors, even with chicken soup.

Finish: Bitter and astringent. Even worse with food. Very unpleasant.

Parting words: My expectations for this wine were simple. I wanted a chard with a bit of wood and sweetness that would pair well with chicken. I figured Trapiche is a reputable producer, Mendoza is a fine region, Chard should be easy for them to grow there, and the time it spent in the bottle should have smoothed any rough edges it may have had, so this should satisfy my simple needs. I was wrong. This is a terrible wine, one that I wouldn’t even give to a carrion-eating scavenger like the Andean condor on the label. Trapiche Oak Cask Chardonnay is highly not recommended.

Chateau Chantal Malbec Reserve

Maker: Chateau Chantal, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Grape: Malbec

Region: Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2007

ABV: 14.5%

Appearance: Dark inky purple with long quick gams. Throws some intense amounts of sediment around.

Nose: Woody, intense, grapey. Almost like a Port or a Gran Reserva Rioja.

On the palate: Medium-bodied,  intense and grapey. Mildly tannic, coats the mouth. A powerful wine that stands up to rich food very well, but you don’t feel like you’re being punched in the face or about to fall off your chair either.

Finish: Fruity, like Concord grape jelly, but without the foxiness. The sediment coats the mouth and lingers for a long time.

Parting words: This is not a terribly complex wine, but it’s very good. Argentina’s Mendoza region is firing on all cylinders right now and Malbec, an old Bordeaux variety, is its flagship grape. Chateau Chantal owns a vineyard in Argentina and imports its wine to sell here. High-end Malbec can age for 10-15 years but most lower-end and middle-range ones are just fine after 2-4 years in the bottle, like this one. Michigan is not known for Bordeaux-varietal reds, but Chateau Chantal has found a great way to offer an excellent one to its customers. Recommended.