The Perfect $10 Chardonnay

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OK, I know a lot of you think the term “perfect Chardonnay” is an oxymoron. There’s nothing perfect about Chardonnay, right? It’s the wine people love to hate. There’s a lot of posturing, group-think, stereotypes and over-oaked plonk that created all that disrespect, which we can’t get into here. So if you really don’t like Chardonnay, you can now move on to something far more productive than this little report.

The 2013 Novellum Chardonnay is a serious wine and a serious value. This delightful Cotes Catalanes comes from the Rousillon region of southern France. The Catalanes wines tend to be the “Grateful Dead” wines of the region – a little outside the box. “The category covers wine that do not fit the rules of the AOC Cotes Du Rousillon, usually because they use different grape varieties or do not conform to the allowable percentages of grape varieties in the blend. This doesn’t mean the wines are of lower quality . . . just that they have more freedom of style.” (snopes.com)

There’s nothing conforming or clichéd about this wine. I had it with a casual meal of grilled mild Italian sausages on a bun with brown mustard, organic tomatoes, jalapeno-flavored pickles, plus sliced carrots and sweet peppers as garnish. (The Dead’s Houston show from 11-18-72 was the soundtrack.) The Novellum’s nose is very bright and makes you want to drink it right away – there’s a little butterscotch on it. It’s explosive on the mouth. Right away, you get vanilla and bread. It finishes strong and clean. It’s really a voluptuous wine and, considering it’s not oaked at all, still has a buttery taste – you can chew it a little.

To me, a perfect wine is interesting, complex, memorable and priced at a point where you don’t have to think twice about opening a bottle for a casual Tuesday night dinner. The Novellum is perfect.

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