jamie goode's wine blog: Another Chardonnay

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another Chardonnay

Next stop in the Chardonnay trail is California. The more commercial Californian wines are often dire, but Brown Forman's Bonterra brand is one I've been quite impressed with, even though they've seemed to milk the organic thing rather too much. I really quite liked this latest release of their Chardonnay.

Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay 2005 Mendocino, California
Lots of flavour here, but it's not overdone: I'm getting baked apples, pears and a hint of lemony freshness, together with some spicy, toasty oak which adds richness. Quite broad shouldered, but not as fat as I remember previous releases being. Very good+ 88/100 (Waitrose £8.99 although I think it is currently on promotion at a bit less)

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At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

Quite attractive label. Not sure I like the organically grown grapes tag though. I know they mean it sincerely, and have the abundant Californian missionary zeal in these matters, but the terms organic or organically grown have become so confusingly vague as a marketing concept as to be meaningless.

Organic is meaningless because it is not about legitimising what you do, but what you don't do (ie spraying proscribed chemicals). Biodynamic is more proactive, but even that is open to various interpretations and I wouldn't have thought most consumers are that fascinated by the nuances of these terms. I presume also that different countries and different agencies have different standards and different labelling requirements. So, again, what does it all mean?

At 9:17 AM, Blogger macau said...

Doug: I once made the mistake of making a comment similar to yours at a rather wine drenched post-tasting dinner. It rapidly became clear that one of the other guests had previously been in sales for Fetzer and lost no time in pointing out that Bonterra is certified by California Certified Organic Farmers - see this extract from CCOF's website.
What standards does CCOF certify to?
The USDA National Organic Program (7 CFR Part 205) is CCOF’s primary certification standard. Copies of the USDA standards are available to [download] or [purchase from CCOF]. All application [printed application packages] include a copy of the USDA standards. We provide additional services as needed for ensuring access to international markets. These include certification to the EU’s EEC 2092/91, IFOAM and other requirements necessary for markets such as Japan. CCOF provides other verification services as needed by our clients to ensure superior recognition for their products on the local, national or world stage. As a professional third party certifier with over 30 years of experience, CCOF is well positioned to provide additional services to help our clients succeed.

So, Doug, I strongly suggest you have a good read of Bonterra's website and click on the link to the CCOF site. If you still think that "the terms organic or organically grown have become so confusingly vague as a marketing concept as to be meaningless" I'd be surprised. While that might be true in Europe (& used as a gimmick to sell some truly awful wine) the Californians have got off their arses & done something about it.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks for your comments. Ultimately, what counts is caring for your vineyard and working in a way that is sustainable. Whether or not you choose to use a label for this doesn't matter. You can run a vineyard badly using organics and biodynamics just as you can run it well with these methods.


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