CASA RIVAS CHARDONNAY - 2002
It is time for a rant. For a changing wine world, I am still amazed at the lack of respect wine gets in bars. Despite America quickly becoming the greatest consumer of wine, we still have a long way to go in the areas of service and wine education. For instance, last week I attended a corporate function at a NYC bar. They were pouring a bunch of wines by the glass, so I thought I'd find out what they were pouring and get myself one. The conversation with the bartender (BT) went like this:
Me: What kind of wines do you have?
BT: Red and white.
Me: No, I mean what kinds of wines are you pouring?
BT: We have red wine and white wine. What do you want?
Me: No, I'm sorry, what labels are you pouring exactly? What wines specifically?
At this point the bartender just shook his head in confusion. A co-worker of mine chimed in and explained, "he's a wine guy so you are going to have to do better than just red or white."
Me: Can you at least tell me what varietals?
BT: Um, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja and Malbec.
Me: Fine, I'll take the Malbec.
The bartender then turned to the next person who asked, "what kind of beer do you have?" The bartender ran through a list of every beer on tap by name (Miller Genuine Draft, Coors Light, Killian's Red, etc) as well as every beer by name in bottle (Corona, Dos Equis, etc). You get the picture. I dream of the day when the average bar, even if they are only pouring 4 wines, will give up wine info without a struggle. Is that too much to ask?
So speaking of wine details, let me tell you about this 14% alcohol Chardonnay from the Maipo Valley in Chile.
Golden straw color with bright citrus and apple-pear on the nose. By the second day the nose changes and smells like petroleum jelly and orange peel. Light oak with caramel, toffee, and saltwater taffy on the mid-palate. Full buttered popcorn finish. Smooth with nice acidity.
SCORE & RECOMMENDATION:
Tremendous value and expression in this Chardonnay. This wine blew me away, especially since I picked it up on clearance for $3.99. I was expecting a mediocre white that would be good to cook with. Instead I ended up with something really surprising and enjoyable. I can't imagine that this wine tasted this good upon release as a $10 wine. With some bottle age, it is a complex hidden gem.