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« It Still Has a Place in Our Hearts: Chardonnay Blind Tasting Results | Main

Inaugural Tasting Panel: Where Does Chardonnay Stand Today?

A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at the Killington Wine Festival. Although I tore my meniscus a few days before the festival, and spent the weekend on crutches, I still had quite an enjoyable time. Both the Estate Tasting on Friday evening, and the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon offered fantastic wines, and memorable tasting experiences. With over 500 wines between the two tastings, there isn't time to recap all of the wines, but I have to mention that a personal highlight was tasting red wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York. I've read a few articles on Finger Lakes reds, but due to the surprisingly limited quantities that are imported to Vermont, I hadn't had a chance to taste them before, and I was impressed. We'll address Finger Lakes reds to a fuller extent in a future piece, but for now, let me address the point of this posting.

While at the Estate Tasting at Killington, I watched as a woman in front of me flatly refused to taste Grgich Hills Chardonnay, stating that she was sure she wouldn't like it. I'm always slightly irked when I see this happen; my philosophy is that when someone offers you a free taste of their product, you should taste it to be polite, unless you're allergic, etc. Additionally, there's also the chance that what you're passing up will be truly spectacular, as was the case in this instance. Grgich Hills is one of the preeminent wineries in California, as it's founder, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, was the winemaker behind the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the 1976 "Paris Tasting," and helped American wines gain international recognition.

I was stunned by the fact that someone would turn down the chance to taste a wine from such a renowned winemaker, simply because of personal prejudice against Chardonnay. I fully respect personal taste preference, but in all honesty, just because someone has had a few bad Chardonnays does not mean that all wines made from Chardonnay are without merit. The experience also left me wondering if Chardonnay, long the stalwart white grape of the American consumer, was experiencing the negative effects of wine fashion. 

To test my theory, I am happy to announce the first of what I hope will be many tasting panels run by this site. On Thursday, August 9th, at 8:00 PM, I will host a blind tasting of white wines, in the hope of getting a sense of where Chardonnay stands in the minds of today's wine consuming population. The tasting will take place in the Burlington, VT area. [NOTE: We're not listing the address because the tasting will be at a private residence, but participants will be emailed the location upon registration.] Depending on the number of participants, we will taste between 6 - 12 wines, and there will be a small fee ($10-$20) to cover the cost of the wines.

If you'd like to be part of the tasting panel, please submit our General Question form, with the subject line "Request to Join Chardonnay Tasting Panel." Please include your name and preferred method of contact in the body of your message.

Requests to join the panel will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis, with the panel being capped at 15 participants. Participants will be contacted with a confirmation of their request to join the panel, and with details about the location of the tasting.

Hope to see some of you next Thursday!


Author's Note: The panel tasting was a great success. Thanks to all who joined. The results of the tasting have been posted in the article, "It Still Has a Place in Our Hearts..."

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