Estampa Viognier-Chardonnay, 2009 Chile

Yes, I know.  I just wrote about a Chilean wine.  But I warned you that I’m in a Chile phase, so I’m back at it this week!  And this one is WORLDS different than the last Chilean wine I wrote about.  Most notably that it is white, and the last one was red.  However, it is equally delicious and I am equally obsessed with it!  It’s especially fun to say- es-STAM-pa!  You will start to feel South American just by saying it. 

As you can see, I dipped into this bottle just a wee bit last night- just last night.  Not right now.  Definitely not right now, it’s only 2:30!   I would never do that.  Sure, there’s a glass of it sitting next to me here at the desk, but I’m just using it to remind myself of how it smells.  So let’s get to that, shall we?  Pretty notes of jasmine, fresh flowers and perfume are predominant, as this wine is mostly Viognier (85%).  The Viognier shows off nice hints of apricots and peaches as well- then the Chard kicks in a perfect punch of citrus to give it that pnice acidic quench.   Which is what I always search for in a summer white- you want your thirst to be quenched and to feel refreshed.  While at the same time achieving your optimal level of pleasant afternoon-in-the-sunshine buzz.  When this wine is very cold (which is how you will probably want it once July rolls around) it’s more of a lean-mean-heat-kickin’-machine, but if you let it come to just under room temperature (which is how a lot of hardcore white wine fans like thier wine) it shows off more of it’s round viscosity and hints of nice residual sugar.  It’s a true double personality- but that’s just what makes it more versatile! 

Check out Estampa’s website  for further evidence of why I MUST.GO.TO.CHILE. 


Oh, I almost forgot!  You’re going to love me for this one- this wine’s ONLY $11!  No way?  WAY!  If you don’t believe me, stop in to Cellar this Saturday, March 26th from 12-2 for our next Giant Wine Sale & Tasting and give it a try! 

Well that’s all the wine-nerding I have time for this afternoon, but here’s another little fun nugget for you:  my fellow ginger and Columbia wine nerd, James Alford, has just started a wine blog of his own!  He’s got a shite-ton of information crammed in that little brain of his, so be sure to check it out!   Fun reading.  If you don’t understand all the words he uses, you’re not alone.  That’s why Google was invented.  Just don’t dare play him in Words with Friends, or you might not like him anymore.  Just kidding, J.  Good luck in the blogosphere!

Spring Fevah! the only cure is… white wine.

I’m pretty sure I’ve used that tag line before… but don’t hate.  Will Ferrell in a belly shirt hitting a cow bell never goes out of style.  But as for today- we’re having a small and miraculous dose of SPRING in February!  Isn’t it fantastic!  I love how we, in South Carolina, act like it’s been suuuuch a long winter and we’re SO ready for Spring- when the poor souls in New England (and lots of other places, too) suffer a much longer and more brutal winter than we’ve ever even imagined.  But be that as it may, we still get to throw open our windows for a few hours, air out the house, put a spring in our step and rejoice that we live in a Southern climate. 

Which is why I have had a serious taste for white wine the last few days!  And even though those who know me know that Chardonnay is not exactly my favorite grape- I’ve found two that really put me in my place with their deliciousness!   

First is the Novellum Chardonnay, 2009 Vin de’Pays.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a Chardonnay since the Chamisal Stainless I reviewed last year!   First because it tastes good.  But keep reading to find out the most awesome reason.  Robert Parker said this about the 2008 vintage of this wine, which I’ll quote since I can’t really put it better:  “The only reason not to enjoy this often over the coming year is if you insist on making an anti-Chardonnay or big-spending statement.”  So, ARE you one of those people who will insist on making an anti-Chardonnay statement??  That is so uncool.  Even worse are people who insist on making big-spending statements.  Just don’t do it.   Who are you really making the statement TO anyway?

Anyway- lovely, lovely, and more lovely is this wine.  Fresh, lively, gorgeous acidic and mineral content, and knock-out fruit- white peach, granny smith apple, tangerine, and a very pleasant hint of hazelnuts and light caramel.  It’s 30% barrel fermented, which translates to a beautiful silky mouthfeel and viscosity.  I really can’t say enough about this wine.  Oh wait- yes I can!  the best part… IT’S $11!  Oh.Em.Gee.  It’s really pretty stunning that this wine can be so good and so inexpensive.  How do they do it?? 

Next is another perennial favorite in the unoaked California Chardonnay category- Four Vines Naked Chardonnay, 2009 Santa Barbara– worth mentioning because it’s also pretty darn good.  And it’s $12!  That’s nothing to sneeze at.  Wine Spectator gave the 2009 vintage a nice little 88-point rating.  My taste generally points me more towards French Chardonnay, but the Naked is a pretty fun wine- more tropical than the Novellum, with lots of citrus, a nice quenching palate almost similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, and notes of pineapple, melon, and pears.  A ripe, flirty little Chardonnay.  This is the Chard that will leave you wondering why so many people hate on Chard.  So lets hear it- why do you think people hate on Chardonnay?  because Grandma drank it?  because they tasted a really cheap disgusting one (or two or three) at some sort of function and decided it sucked?    I’m curious.  

Before I sign off for today, a few items for consideration: the Novellum is available as part of our $90 Mystery Case this week (a new group of wines will be sent out today or tomorrow, but for last weeks- click here).   Huh?  you don’t get our wine club emails?  Tsk tsk.  $90 plus tax for a case of wine can’t really be beat, trust me.  Email us if you want to sign up!  Also it will be at the Wine Sale this Saturday the 19th (it’s supposed to be 75 degrees out!  holla!) from 12-2. 

AND- check Cellar on Greene out in the Free Times this week!  Bite of the Week- Duck Quesadilla.

Whites You Need for the 4th!

A quick post before our annual summer vacation from July 3rd-7th!  This Thursday night, the 1st, we’re doing a special night of Whites You be Needin’ for the 4th of July.  All of the wines I’m about to blather on about may be consumed for $4 a glass on Thursday night, and then ones you like best may be whisked away with you that very night (after you purchase them, of course)!  Yes, you know you need to stock up that cooler before you high-tail it out of Columbia.  Why do I know you will be doing that?  because that’s what you all did last year!  The night before 4th of July weekend, we had a total of 6 customers at Cellar on Greene.  Columbia was like a ghost town.  Which is fine- have fun, be safe, but STOCK UP!  Especially on some killer summer whites!  What else could you want for the beach?!  Beer, I suppose.  Beer tastes good at the beach.  But so does Opala!  And the rest of the wines I’m about to tell you about….

Opala Vinho Verde (Portugal) really needs no intruduction- it still remains the most visited post out of all the wine rants I’ve created over the last year and a half.  It’s our best seller at Cellar (get it?  seller?  cellar?).  It’s $10 a bottle.  I seriously doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t tasted this wine and not loved it.  It’s light, it’s crisp, it’s a little fizzy, and it’s low in alcohol, so you can practically sip it through a straw while you roast in the sun and never get more than a pleasant buzz.  We have PLENTY in stock, so stop in and grab as much as you need!

Norton Torrontes (Argentina)– this is a new one to me, but I *heart* torrontes, and so do a lot of our regulars.  Stylistically this one’s a bit on the drier side, which is nice for a summer wine.  Torrontes tend to have very flamboyant noses, with lots of bright fruit going on- sometimes hints of candy like jolly ranchers and gummy bears- but then they surprise you when you with their crispness when you get to the palate.  This one has leafy notes, with granny smith apple and tangy lemon flavors.  Delish!  $10 a bottle!


Markham Sauvignon Blanc (California) is definitely an above average Cali Sauv Blanc for this price range ($13 a bottle).  California Sauv Blancs are some of my favorites where Sauv Blanc is concerned- I love New Zealands as well, but occasionally I feel as though I’m chewing either a.) a grapefruit rind, or b.) a mouthful of grass.  The Markham offers delightful tropical hints- passionfruit, guava, gooseberry- finished off with nice lemony and white peach notes.   Fantastic alone or delicious with a fresh green salad and a citrusy viniagrette of sorts.  Fish, chicken, even a lightly prepared pork- perfect!  Very versatile wine.


Pighin Pinot Grigio (Italy).  Okay, I said it- Pinot Grigio is probably my least favorite white wine.  BUT!  When it’s good, I love it!  And it still has a stronghold over people, because it sells like hotcakes in the hot weather.  The Pighin is from Friuli, which gives it a leg up over other Pinot Grigio’s- the grape manages to maintain it’s intensity.  Peachy stone fruits, a silky texture, a h int of hazelnut, and a touch of melon lead into a classic, clean finish.  Yum!  $10 a bottle!


Last but not least, Lonen Charonnay (California).    A lush, rich little Cali Chard, which despite the the amount of “anything but Chardonnay” press there is out there these days in wine-snob land- still maintains strong selling presence… pretty much everywhere.  The Lonen is like a big, ripe basket of exotic fruits- pineapple, mango, light touches of orange blossom and a luxurious, butterscotchy-oaky-toasty finish.  Delicious and a fantastic value for $13 a bottle. 

That’s all I have time for today!  Likewise, if you need some REDS for the 4th, too- just let me know and I will hook it up in a jiffy while you’re sipping away on your $4 glass of white.  And maybe some tuna nachos, too?  That’s what I just had for lunch.  Ah, the benefits of working at Cellar on Greene.  Tuna Nachos whenever I want!

Chamisal Stainless Chardonnay, 2008

So, here I am in the office.  It’s barely noon as I write this, and yet I am dipping into a magnificent glass of wine.  I know, I know… I am at work, and it’s early.  But tonight is my night off!  and this wine is just too good.  I couldn’t possibly write about it thoughtfully without drinking some.  Surely impossible, and inauthentic.  So I consider it an occupational hazard that I must endure for the time being.  Poor me. 

It occurred to me this morning that I have not blogged about a Chardonnay yet.  This is literally a perfect choice to break that spell.  I will also let it be known that I LOVE a good Chardonnay.  Emphasis on the good.  Likewise, I also loathe (in my opinion) a nasty Chardonnay.  In all of 2009, I can’t really say I found a California Chard in this price range that I loved- the last one I recall loving for $14 was  a French Chard called Les Morizottes that we poured by the glass at Cellar and Solstice for quite a while. 

**pause to pour a bit more wine in the glass**

The reason Chardonnay is such a cool grape is that it can take on so many different characteristics.  I read somewhere that it has been called the “chameleon” of grapes because of this.  I find that for my taste, a nice light unoaked chardonnay is where it’s at.  Chardonnay has a natural mineral content that is really beautiful when it is expressed well.  Most people don’t associate this with Chardonnay, as California has made a habit of producing very rich, buttery, oaked Chardonnay.  As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  I like a rich, elegant Chard too- but from my experience it is harder to find one that is “good” by my standards in the $15 or so price range. 

See?  here it is, in the office with my paperwork…

Which was a loooong winded way of saying (sorry, I get wordy when I drink wine at noon) that this Stainless Chard from Chamisal is DELICIOUS!!!  Fresh, lively, clean and vibrant.  Notes of pineapple, honeydew melon, green apples, citrus, and a nice light spice on the finish.  This is a cheerful, sunny, pretty wine.  Also, on the plus side, it is one of those wines that looks a lot more expensive than it is.  The packaging is simple and tasteful and they call it “stainless” rather than unoaked, which for some reason makes it seem more high-tier.  Sounds like a genius marketing team was at work here, which truthfully, is okay with me.  I love to think about the reasons people buy things, and something as simple as a different wording is enough, psychologically speaking, to boost sales.  Fascinating. 

We will have this at the wine sale tomorrow, Saturday, January 16th from 12-2 at Cellar on Greene in Five Points for $13!!  And I’d venture a guess that we will put it on by the glass starting next week.  If you stop in, ask me for a taste and be prepared to have your ear talked off (in a good way).  Thanks for reading and Cheers to Friday!  Hope you all started off your weekend at noon like I did…