It seems I'm off Chardonnay.
And I'm completely freaked out.
My beverage of choice, at least in the white wine department, has been letting me down lately.
And I've no idea why!
For more than a decade, it's been my go-to choice for white wine. And I love it. At least I used to love it. I think — I hope — I still do.
But for the past few weeks, it just hasn't been making me as happy as it used to.
Perhaps I’ve just had too much of a good thing. I know that, while I think I’m adventurous (or should that be adventuresome?), I tend to find something I like and glom into it — hold on for dear life and not let go.
While I know it's wise to mix things up a bit, if not a lot, that just seems not to be my nature. When I've strayed from Chard in the past, I've usually been disappointed. Sure, I like Chenin Blanc and Viognier and really intense Pinot Gris. But even those haven't been cutting it lately either.
Maybe I'm off white wine period! OMG! That would be a tragedy indeed.
I'm not sure exactly how, when, where, or why it happened. But I know I began — or at least I began to admit to myself — it had, or was, happening in Las Vegas when I was there for a conference a month ago. I think the notion had been creeping up on me for some time. But I'd not been willing to acknowledge it. And I'm still not, really. But when something slaps you in the face, it's about time to pay attention.
And I’m not really sure what the solution is. I mean, I can’t drink red wine with white fish like haddock or tilapia. I just can’t. By the same token, white wine with red meat? Not on my agenda. At all.
I think what I’m missing most is just sipping Chardonnay — a good Chardonnay — before dinner. Food can either disguise or elevate a beverage, so although I figure having supper without wine is a stupid waste of food, the meal at least balances things out to some degree by not making the beverage have to stand up to scrutiny on its own.
But maybe the qualifier in the first sentence of the preceding paragraph holds the clue. I said I’m missing sipping a GOOD Chardonnay. Could be THAT’S the problem! Perhaps I’ve just outgrown the moderately decent Chards I drink most of the time and need to take the quality up a notch. But I don’t think my bank account can take it. Well, I KNOW it can’t. Not on a regular basis.
So I’m stuck with this dilemma. But I think what I’m going to do is revisit some Chards I used to love that I haven’t had for a while. Even though I’ve moved away from the really oaky ones I used to love (do you see a pattern of fickleness beginning to show itself here?), it’s time for me to give the lovely Sandhill Chardonnay a go again. A Canadian VQA wine from the Okanagan, the Sandhill is creamy yet crisp, and has an impressive depth of flavour. The Sandhill boasts lots of fruit, and has a slightly spicy finish. Maybe it can set me back on track again for $17.99.
I also used to love the Valdivieso Single Vineyard Wild Fermented Chardonnay. For $21.48, layer upon layer of flavour cascades from this beautiful beverage — it’s got rich fruit, some nuttiness and minerality. It’s full-bodied and really different and I’m going to give it another try again, too.
A while back, I took notice of the 2011 Errazuriz Estate Reserva Chardonnay from Chile. At $12.99 a bottle, I wasn’t expecting a lot. But I was pleasantly surprised by this wine. While fairly acidic and quite dry, it had notes of vanilla, lemon and flowers. I also thought I detected some grassy hints as well, and maybe … asparagus? Lavender? That’s what it seemed like anyway. There were no descriptors on the label to tell me what the winemaker thought I SHOULD be smelling and tasting, which, oddly enough, is the way I prefer it — that is, I like to make up my own mind and not let what somebody else smells and tastes make me second-guess my own assessments.
Anyway, when I re-explore the Chards about which I used to be passionate, I’ll also pick up a bottle of the Errazuriz Chard just for fun. And maybe it’s time I started seriously exploring some other varietal alternatives as well. But I have to confess my heart’s not in it. I want my love for Chardonnay back! I’ll let you know how it all plays out.