September 07, 2005

Vasse Felix 2004 Margaret River Chardonnay

(Imported by Negociants, USA, Napa, CA; about $15)

Tasting wine blind—that is, without knowing what it is, is a great way to make a fool of yourself. But it’s also a terrific way to taste a wine without being swayed by what the package looks like, who made it, and where it’s from. For instance, I might have never discovered Vasse Felix’s 2004 Chardonnay if someone hadn’t handed me a glass and said, “Guess what this is.” I may have wandered off to find an Austrian grüner veltliner or some other obscurity, wine geek that I am. But I wasn’t complaining when I tasted it. Free from the heavy vanilla-butter brickle tones so often found in heavily oaked chardonnay, this one shines with the flavor of the grape, crisp as a cold granny smith apple, and firm with the cool mineral tones often found in chardonnay grown in cool climates, like Australia’s Margaret River. It’s so crisp and minerally that I guessed it was a modern French Chablis. The foolishness I felt when it was revealed that I was an entire hemisphere off was offset by the joy of finding something so good that costs just $15.

This article originally appeared in the Denver Post.

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