Sunday, January 12, 2020

Tempest Bay Carneros Chardonnay, 2018

Tempest Bay Carneros Chardonnay 2018Carneros Chardonnay wines are rarely cheap. Bordering on San Pablo Bay just north of San Francisco, Carneros gets cool ocean breezes and morning fog that makes it a good place for growing Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir) grapes.. That's why I was intrigued when I saw this wine selling for $7.99 at Trader Joe's.

Research by Domaine Dave at found that the Tempest Bay label is not owned by Trader Joe's but rather by a highly respected Sonoma winery that apparently is reluctant to cheapen its image by selling its wine for under $10. That could be because the winery has a surplus of wine that might otherwise command a higher price. Or it could be that the winery contracted with Trader Joe's to make a less expensive version. Domaine Dave concludes that "you can't infer too much other than they do know how to make high quality wine."

I don't have much experience with tasting Carneros Chardonnay, but I can say that I find this bottle attractive. Oak barrels are expensive; most Chardonnays selling for less than $10 a bottle substitute oak chips, which impart what I consider cheap aromas and flavors, not at all attractive. A better alternative is to produce an unoaked wine or one using mostly seasoned barrels. That's what I find in this wine. Yes, there are some vanilla scents but mostly I find green apples, pears, honeydew melon and spicy minerals. There is substantially more acidity than you get in most $10 Chardonnays, and that is what I like. I will go back for more.

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