Here’s a recent addition Fresh & Easy’s wine selection, a South African Chardonnay. South Africa’s been coming on gangbusters for a little over a decade now, trying to compete in the international market with international varietals and doing quite well in recent years. This Chard, from the no doubt corporately-named “Cape Peak” series of wines is sourced to the entire “West Cape” region, which is more or less the equivalent of “South Eastern Australia” or “California.” However, Stellenbosch and Paarl (both Cape regions) have been turning out some excellent Chards of late, so it’s not unreasonable to expect a “state” wine to be pretty good.
They say that Chardonnay is the winemaker’s grape because the juice itself is rather neutral; it is the winemaker’s decisions after the grapes have been picked that determine the taste of the wine that ends up in the bottle. The decisions in this case are, um, interesting. In short, this wine comes off both on the nose and the palate as a Sauvignon Blanc. There’s just enough varietal character here to make a credible case for Chardonnay (and I’m sure that it’s Chardonnay juice in the wine – it has the white certification tag on the capsule attesting to as much, per South African wine law), but it pushes the recent trend toward unoaked Chardonnay to the extreme.
In the glass the wine is a very pale straw color. The nose offers up grass, citrus, and faint notes of honey. Green apple and limey citrus dominate the palate and the wine finishes with what was for me an off sourness. All in all, its drinkability suffered on account of this varietal muddle.
If you love New World Sauvignon Blancs (from New Zealand, especially) – and frankly, I like but don’t love this style – and you’re trying to meet a Chardonnay fan somewhere in the middle, this wine might work for you. Keep in mind that that “somewhere” is quite a bit closer to your taste in wine than hers.
Total value: 8.5/15