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Wine Advisor Express:
Anything but Chardonnay?

I wouldn't really sign on to any wine philosophy that writes off any wine grape or region entirely. There's too much joy in the variety of wine to dismiss any category entirely; and if someone offered me, say, a wine made from Concord grapes grown in the Maldives, I'm sure I would give it a try just to see what it was like.

But that being said, it's easy to understand why some wine lovers, marching under the banner "Anything But Chardonnay," not-so-quietly rebel against this particular grape.

Yes, Chardonnay at its best makes some of the world's finest wines, particularly in Burgundy and Champagne and with outposts in Australia and California and elsewhere. But too many of the Chardonnays that seem to dominate retail shelf space and restaurant wine lists are, frankly, boring. Chardonnay has become a popular mass-market wine because it can be made soft, mellow and just a notch to the sweet side of "dry." A regular diet of that kind of thing can be as cloying as too much ice cream.

Sauvignon Blanc offers one escape for white-wine fanciers seeking an alternative to Chardonnay. The increasingly popular Pinot Gris/Grigio is another, not to mention Riesling, Viognier, Albarino and many more. But don't overlook Chenin Blanc, particularly as rendered in the Loire Valley of France. Here's a fine and relatively affordable example made by the Monmousseau family of Vouvray.

Gaudrelle Chateau Gaudrelle 1999 Vouvray Val de Loire ($9.99)
Clear pale gold, with a fresh scent of pears and melons. Crisp and fresh, just the slightest hint of sweetness, and that attractive, elusive earthiness that's often a characteristic of good Vouvray. Crisp and very fresh, it's an excellent food wine. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Dec. 13, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: Made to go with seafood, this one also made a great match with a simple leek frittata. Who says egg dishes don't go with wine?

WEB LINKS: The Web address shown on the label,, does not work, but the Monmousseau winery has a Website in French at; click the British flag icon or go to for the English edition. The importer's Website is at, with a fact sheet on the Monmousseau wines at

2000 Years Ferreira's Port Vintage
A.A. Ferreira, S.A., is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year with the presentation of two limited collections of Vintage Port Wine, providing all collectors, scholars and lovers of Wine and Port Wine with a unique opportunity to enhance their wine cellars.

The 2000 Years Ferreira's Vintage Port Cabinet is made up of 24 bottles of Vintage Ferreira Port Wine whose summed ages amount to 2000 years in 2001.

The 250 Years Ferreira's Vintage Port Cabinet is made up of six bottles of Vintage Ferreira Port Wine whose summed ages amount to 250 years in 2001.

The two Cabinets have been made of Portuguese oak by local craftsmen, and the bottles are in drawers marked in chronological order with the year of each Vintage. Each Cabinet includes six Riedel glasses and the book "A.A. Ferreira - Wines Steeped in History." The book describes the weather conditions and the main events in Portugal and abroad in each of the years and contains the tasting notes for each Vintage.

In view of the extreme rarity and delicacy of these Ports, only 10 collections of the 2000 Years Vintage and 250 collections of the 250 Years Vintage will be made available. Come and visit these exclusive collections at by clicking to

California Wine Club:
Happy Holidays!

Tick-Tock! Is your Christmas shopping finished? The California Wine Club can help! With three-, two- and next-day delivery, get your gift there on time!

Business associates, family, friends, neighbors and even your mailman! A gift of wine is the perfect way to say "Happy Holidays!"

Each shipment includes two bottles of award-winning wine, hand-selected from the best of California's small, family-owned wineries.

Subscriptions start at $32.95 plus shipping and include a fun, informative eight-page newsletter. Send as many months as you wish! Special discounts on gifts of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Call (800) 777-4443 or visit the California Wine Club website at

Delivery is limited to locations where interstate wine shipping is permitted by law.

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page,

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Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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