The old adage "Don't buy a book by it's cover" is, in my opinion, slightly flawed. After all, the job of the cover of a book is to give the potential reader a taste of what they may expect to discover inside, so to judge a book by it's cover is to be thoroughly expected. The same goes for wine. A carefully penned image of a grand Chateau; turrets, stone walls, perhaps a boat on a river and we know we are in for classic Bordeaux. On the other hand there is a moderately peculiar trend towards animal related labels. Mangy Dingo Shiraz, Ferrel Beaver Falanghina, the kind of thing that generally points the way to some sugared-up supermarket shelf hideousness. Labels on bottles of Pinot Noir from Burgundy tend to sneer at the consumer as if to say "Oui, I am from Burgundy. Try and understand me, if you dare!" which is perfect because that so often echoes the juice inside. Smart, graphic labels from Spain warn you to prepare yourself an attention grabbing modern-styled wine that when combined with a bottle that weighs a quartre of a tonne suggests that you may require a spoon to tackle the stuff and the have aspirin at the ready. Tall, slender bottles with lots of unpronounceable words like Klifftenbergenhoffspaugunder and you can be sure you are in the Teutonic embrace of the Mosel. All of which leads me onto this:

Not that wild.

Not that wild.

I don't know about you, but the extraordinary label slapped on this bottle of Chardonnay from Californian producer Au Bon Climat, suggests that one should prepare oneself for a serious mouth wallop. Lots and lots of oak, cream, butter, vanilla, a palate as thick as treacle, fat, opulent, flabby even, that sort of affair. But whilst it is very ripe of fruit, quite exotic, sporting a sunny personality that reflects it's origins, this juice retains a cool, crisp demeanour and a seriousness that belies the tear-inducing label. Hints of smoky oak, surprisingly restrained, tense even, the wood well-intergrated, leaving the palate subtle and nervy. Lemon fresh, with only a nod to more tropical fruit, leading up to a really quite classy, chalky finish. Quite the surprise. February 2014

Posted
AuthorWine Badger
CategoriesAmerican Wine