Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day Chardonnays - Mondavi and Hosmer

My brother Ted and his wife Jen were kind enough to have everyone over for a Mother's day barbeque yesterday. I made sure to bring my little notebook and my camera so that I could take pictures of wine labels. Yesterday really highlighted an important wine fact - it's always better to start with the lesser wine and have the better one after. If you have a great wine first, a mediocre wine is really going to seem worse after that. Such was the case yesterday. (I suppose an argument can be made that if you have enough of the good wine first, you won't notice that the next wine is inferior, or that you should start off with the good stuff while your palate is fresh... but I still think it's better to improve as you go along.)

We started with a CK Mondavi 2004 Willow Springs Chardonnay. You probably heard of Mondavi, a California winery that is reliable in its production of good wines. This chardonnay was no exception. I would describe it as bright, fruity, smooth and crisp. It wasn't sweet, but wasn't bone dry. It was light and was pleasant drinking, even without food. A testament to this wine was the fact that everyone liked it. My dad, the former Manischevitz drinker, gave it a thumbs up. (He would like me to note, by the way, that although he does like Manischevitz and White Zinfandel, he's expanded his vistas and has also incorporated chardonnay into his repertoire. He's not keen on Pinot Grigio though.) Jen's dad, Kent, who is actually a wine connoisseur also gave the Mondavi a thumbs up. It's the sort of wine that you can't go wrong with -- the perfect bottle to bring to dinner.

The second wine, however, created many a wrinkled nose. (Well, mine was wrinkled in any event). It was a Hosmer Winery Cayuga Lake Chardonnay 2004. Being a New Yorker, I hate to denigrate a New York wine... but this chardonnay did not come close to the Mondavi. It had a darker color, strong sharp aroma, and sweet, fruity/grapey taste with a sharp edge and a lot of oak. I didn't enjoy drinking this without food, and even the hot dog I was eating couldn't overpower the taste of that wine. (Ok, I know I shouldn't be eating a hot dog with a chardonnay - mea culpa). Cayuga Lake is upstate New York. There are a number of wineries there, and I've been to a few in the Finger Lakes. They are great to visit for entertainment value, and some of them have unusal varieties that lend themselves to the climate - like a Riesling perhaps. But word to the wise, leave the chardonnay to California.


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