The Scoop on Value Priced California Chardonnay WineApr 18, 2001 (Updated Apr 22, 2001) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in WineThe Bottom Line Sometimes, you get what you pay for. Sometimes, you get more than what you paid for. Buyer beware! It is usually best to stick with name brands and reputable vintners.
Most people know that farmers in California produce the world's largest yield of Chardonnay grapes, and that California wineries produce the greatest amount of white wine products in the world.
Although demand for California white wines is growing, there still is a huge over-supply of grape product, so it usually happens, every year, that the grape oversupply is fermented into wine products by bulk crushers. This is particularly true in the Lodi/Woodbridge region of California: the largest wine grape growing region in the state (just north of the state capitol, Sacramento).
Much of the bulk wine produced is purchased by large, commercial vineyards. These wines are blended and bottled for table wine and jug wine products and in many cases the wines are of fairly good quality and are value priced at the retail level.
Large vinters purchase bulk wine from growers in the Lodi area to fulfill specific marketing needs, and in particular to expand market share in several niche categories of wine varieties. Utilizing a variety of different labels, one vintner can market one wine variety (Chardonnay, for example) in several quality categories: jug wine, table wine, vintage, premium, etc. Additionally, many smaller vintners operate on small parcels of grape growing land and must purchase from other growers outside their region to meet supply goals.
According to Wine Trends (a wine marketing project that analyzes sales data from more than 200 wineries), there are eight different marketing price segments for wine, but for purposes of simplification, these segments can be reduced to three major price categories.
Under $8: accounts for 78% of sales volume, 48% of sales revenue
$8 - $15: accounts for 14% of sales volume, 22% of revenue
Over $15: accounts for 8% of sale volume, 30% of revenue
As you can see, most consumers purchase wine in the under $8 per bottle class, so this is an important marketing segment for many middle-tier, middle-quality wineries.
To meet demand, some wineries purchase bulk wine from brokers. One such broker is Turrentine Wine Brokerage in San Anselmo, California. At the time of this epinion, this one broker was offering the following:
Chardonnay Grape: more than 10,000 tons
Bulk Chardonnary Wine: 3+ million gallons, 1997-2000 vintages, various regions
Bottled Chardonnay Wine: More than 5,000 cases, unlabeled, prices ranging from $22 to $42 per case (12 bottles)
I write about this topic to bring a few points to the readers mind:
1) Not all California Chardonnay is produced by the vintner whose name appears on the label.
2) Some California Chardonnays can be purchased at a steep discount. For those interested (e.g., restauranteurs), good bulk wine can be purchased -- already in the bottle -- at prices as low as $1-$2 per bottle. Slap on your own label (Presto!, you now have your own vanity wine), and you can resell your wine to your patrons at 6-to-10x retail instead of the usual 2x retail price.
3) Not all California Chardonnay is great. Sometimes, you get what you paid for. But that's not bad: sometimes to appreciate good and great quality wines you have to try some of the swill. It is an educational process; you can learn about a wineries mistakes and it helps you to identify what it is that you like in a particular varietal style. Have fun and experiment.
Here are some examples of Lodi area wines I've tried in recent weeks:
Not Recommended: Hawaiian Paradise White Wine
Vinted and Bottled by: Chatfield Winery
Price: $.99 (yep, less than $1 per bottle)
Alcohol Content: 12% ABV
Flavor Characteristics: aroma of tamarind, sour fruit, rotting fig pulp.
Keyword Search: "bad wine"
Not Recommended: Iron Stone Cellars Chardonnay
Alcohol Content: 12% ABV
Flavor Characteristics: sweet, sherry nose; over-ripe fruit, apple, clove, nutmeg, cantelope
Recommended: Oak Ridge Vineyards 1998 Classic Reserve California Chardonnay
Alcohol Content: 12% ABV
Flavor Characteristics: crisp green apple and flint, some oak
Comments: a good table wine for everyday consumption
Recommended: Eagle Canyon Vin De Pays D'Oc Chardonnay
Imported by RM Enterprises
Bottled by Eagle Canyon Winery, Healdsburg, CA
Alcohol Content: 12.5% BY Volume
Flavor Characteristics: classic Frech White Burgundy, heavy with herb and oak flavors
Comments: Imported from France; bulk French wine bottled in California. Strange twist!
|Read all comments (1)|Write your own comment|
Ads by Google
Little River Chardonnay Heavy Oak & Delicate Fruit Nuances Of Citrus, Pear & Apple. Order Now!
Wine.com - Official Store The #1 Rated Online Wine Store! Scheduled Delivery Available.
Morrell Wine Experience Manhattan's top wine shop since '47 - Visit us in person, or Order Now!