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by Fred McMillin
for June 2003

Wine

 

How Much Should You Pay
For The Best Chardonnay?

Current "On Wine"
Wine Archive

 

Prologue

"We tasted 60 American Chardonnays that cost between $20 and $50. We found that the most expensive wines weren't the best. In fact, three of our six favorites cost less than $25."
               Gaiter and Brecher
               Wall Street Journal

 

The Rest of the Story

To check this, we paired nine California Chardonnays costing between $20 and $25 with nine costing between $30 and $50. Here are the winners of each match. The highest-rated wine is listed last. Thus, the further you read, the better the wine.

 

The Winning Chardonnays

Rank   Low Cost   High Cost   The Wine
9th       $35   Staglin Family, Napa Valley, 2000
8th       $39   Clos du Val Reserve, Napa Valley, 2000
7th       $33   Grgich Hills, Napa Valley, 2000
6th   $20       Sattui, Carsi Vineyard, Napa Valley, 2000
5th       $30   Davis Bynum, Russian River Valley, 2000
4th       $40   Byron, Nielson Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 1999
3rd       $42   Jarvis, Napa Valley, 1999
2nd   $24       Chateau St. Jean, Belle Terre Vineyard, Alexander Valley, 2000
1st   $20       St. Clement, Abbotts Vineyard, Napa Valley, 1999
 

So How Much Should You Pay To Get The Best?

The Wall Street Journal found three winning Chardonnays under $25 (see Note 1) and so did we. However, if you buy an under $25 bottle and a $30 plus model, our results say that two times out of three, you will prefer the MORE EXPENSIVE bottle...more intensity, more clove, more vanilla, more body, etc. So, the odds are that when you find your very favorite Chardonnay, the price will be well over $25.

Notes:
1) The Journal's three were by Robert Mondavi, Joseph Phelps and Miner Family Vineyards.
2) Research assistance by Mr. And Mrs. Joe Lorentz.

 
 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 


 

 
 

This page created June 2003

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