30 Second Wine Advisor: Light, bright Chardonnay

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Light, bright Chardonnay

If that headline made you go back and do a double-take, chances are that you join most wine lovers in characterizing Chardonnay as a rich, buttery, oaky and full-bodied kind of white wine.

For many Chardonnays, particularly New World bottlings, it's a fair assertion, describing a style of wine that divides the world into two groups of people: Those who love Chardonnay and those who'd really rather have something else, thanks.

But for every rule there are a few exceptions, and this is certainly true here. The original Chablis from France, near Europe's northern edge of wine cultivation, is usually lean, tart and stony, rarely showing evidence of oak. Macon and its neighbors on the southern end of Burgundy can be light and crisply styled; and you'll find the occasional "unoaked" Chard checking in from New Zealand and Australia, too.

Today let's turn to Washington State for a reasonably priced Chardonnay that's light in weight and easy on the wood, with only a hint of spicy French oak showing up as an accent in its crisp apple and pear flavor.

Revelry Vintners 2008 Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($13.99), according to the winery, is aged at cold temperatures in flavor-neutral stainless steel tanks for 18 months, during which time "we also expose the wine to 100% French oak for four months."

That's a bit vague, and very likely does not refer to barrel aging but the placement of barrel staves, perhaps, or even oak chips in the fermenting tanks. No matter: The result is in the tasting, and this is a pleasant wine.

Curiously, Revelry offers the Chardonnay both in standard 750 ml glass bottles and - get ready for it - in magnum-size "casks," better know as "wine-in-the-box." If you're inclined to diss boxed wines, it might pay you to give the bottled version a try. Assuming it's the identical product, you'll find nothing second-rate in this bottle. Well-balanced and food-friendly, crisp and tart, it speaks more of fruit than oak.

What's new from Taylor Eason

The prolific Tampa-based wine-and-food writer Taylor Eason has been favoring us with delightful weekly columns, and we're happy to have them. For your quick reference, here are links to a couple of Taylor's recent submissions:

* The hows and whys of decanting wine
There are two good reasons for following the decanting ritual. Not every wine should be decanted, but some need to be. Taylor explains the ins and outs of the procedure.

* Bring your own wine
Not all restaurants embrace BYO, but in cities and states where the law permits, increasing numbers are okay with it – provided you follow the rules.

If you enjoy The 30 Second Wine Advisor, I expect you'll like Taylor's Email wine letter, too. Sign up on the front page of her Website, TaylorEason.com.

Today her front page features one of those offbeat, fun wine-story ideas that I wish I had thought of myself: Tricky Treats: Halloween candy and wine pairing

Wine maps and posters ...

Barco RealeMy pals Steve and Deborah De Long, creators of the innovative Wine Grape Varietal Table, recently added another top wine country to their beautiful collection of quality, poster-size wine maps. This one features Italy, (The detail shows the regions around Florence in Tuscany.)

The De Long Wine Map of Italy ($29.95) joins the De Longs' outstanding poster-size wine maps of California and the Iberian Peninsula in their growing wine-map library. (A wine map of France is coming soon.)

The Wine Map of Italy includes all wine regions in Italy as well as adjacent wine regions in France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia and Tunisia.

To order The Wine Map of Italy or any of the other De Long wine maps, click www.delongwine.com/wine-maps.php?PARTNER=WLP or call 1-888-240-7565, toll-free in the U.S. Call the same number or Click this link for the fun and informative Wine Grape Varietal Table

Today's Tasting Report

Revelry 2008 Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($13.99)


Transparent pale gold. A light scent of pears appeals, with a back note of very subtle vanilla. Pears and white fruit on the palate, seems a bit soft on the first sip, but zippy acidity quickly segues in to provide a sturdy structure. Flavors remain consistent into a long, snappy lemon-zest finish. The 13.9% alcohol is on the high side for my liking, but to its credit, it doesn't show as harshness or heat in the flavor. (Oct. 1, 2010)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's light, fresh fruit and snappy acidity go with fish and seafood like a squirt of lemon. It was fine with an Italian-style dish from Marcella Hazan, roasted bluefish stuffed with capers and anchovies, breadcrumbs and Parmigiano.

VALUE: A reasonable buy in the middle teens.

Wine-Searcher.com offers limited vendors for Revelry Chardonnay." The 2007 vintage is available for sale direct from the winery for $14.99 at this link, available where the law allows.

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