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November 23, 2011


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Can you expand on #4? Somebody's got to step up and defend Chardonnay, and it might as well be me :)

Ian - Absolutely!

1. It makes you sterile.

2. It's the drink of choice for Martha Stewart.

3. See numbers 1 and 2.

4. Seriously, I keed. I love a good Chablis. But the issue, as I found out, is that a huge chunk of wine consumers is chained to this boring variety (boring when it's mass-produced, as it most often is). They just want a chardonnay, don't care about anything else. Won't open their eyes to Riesling, let alone Gruner or Sauvignon Blanc or anything else. It's the mental block that prevents people from truly experiencing wine.

And that about sums up most of wine drinking America. Nice work, Evan. Poor Riesling ... I wouldn't need student loans if I had a dollar for every time I've had that conversation. Regardless, that small percentage (from #5) somehow make it all worth it.


I drink alot of chardonnay.

Your points are exactly those I have been experiencing in the 4 years that I am in wine education (appx 50% North American clients, rest from all over the world). Variety, not region, is all I hear; Riesling is sweet; appx 70% prefer reds; Chardonnay is known by all (followed by Pinot Grigio). Luckily, I do get the small percentage of consumers that DO want to learn :) perks of being an educator!

I actually don't believe that so many people WANT to drink chardonnay. Instead, these are the majority of folks from point #2 and #5 and they say "chardonnay" because its familiar and simple. They know they'll get something white that they will enjoy at least a little bit. For better or worse. But whether chardonnay, pinot grigio, merlot or otherwise, it's just "easy".

By way of example I remember this embarrassing moment for me a decade ago - I ordered a Magners in an Irish bar in an attempt to just try some new beer. Well, you probably know the punchline: Magners is not beer, it's cider. For all a chardonnay drinker knows, lemberger is a cheese and cabernet has something to do with the theater performance of Chicago.

I could not agree more with the comment about Riesling IN UPSTATE NY. In other markets, let us just say more metropolitan and leave it at that, Riesling has re-emerged as something more than sweet wine.
About the Chardonnay comment, I think this bring up an interesting point. Anytime you can describe a wine simply by its grape variety, without reference to where it is made, how much can you possibly expect from such a wine? If any regional character is inconsequential, then it hardly deserves to be included in wine forums. It's the equivalent of asking for a light beer!


Don't you think that, at times, people just say 'Chardonnay' when they want a generic white wine? SG

Morten - That is perfectly said. Perfectly. Chardonnay, in generic terms, means "lite beer."

Steveg - Yep, see Morten's astute description.

Jared - Awesome story! And yeah, there were plenty of folks asking for PG as well...

So many things to comment on here, but I'll pick 2. First off, Chardonnay has a huge potential in NY. NY Chardonnays I have tasted are anything but simple. Styles range from barrel fermentation to stainless and everything in between. NY has a huge advantage over California and other hot climate places because the flavors and acidity achieve a perfect balance. If you don't like Chardonnay and can't bring yourself to do anything but be negative on the variety, it would be best to simply review things you do like. Lots of people really like Chardonnay, and lots of those people LOVE NY Chardonnay. “NY Chardonnay” is a superior product, so perhaps we should be branding “NY Chardonnay”.

Second, I have to say that while Rochester identifies itself with the Finger Lakes region (nearly all of the fundraisers are done with FL wines), the city is equally close, if not closer to the Niagara region. You mention Keuka Spring at the north end of Keuka Lake, which is a drive of 1hr 20 minutes from downtown. In less than 1hr you can be at the east end of the Niagara wine trail and in 1hr 25 minutes you can be here, enjoying the estate Malbec that the gentleman at the bar was craving. I will continue to be interesting to see the city’s residents realize they are really close to two great wine regions, but it will take many years for that to enter the regional consciousness.

Martha Stewart aside, I really enjoy the many well made NYS Chardonnay wines I have tried. I too, think our Chardonnays will continue to offer great quality at moderate prices.
Too bad the mega large wine distribution companies seem so focused on convincing the general public that all of the poorly made, one dimensional Chardonnays in the world are great value wines. The same thing goes for so many of the cheap red wines they promote.
Some say it's just business, but to me there are more important considerations that need to be made.
It's also not surprising that when quality producers like Keuka Spring get a chance to showcase themselves the responses from the consumers are very positive.

Did anyone ask for a red Chardonnay?

Brett - No one asked for a red Chardonnay, whew! Thank goodness. I'm sure it's happened many times.

Steve - Very well said. Those huge-volume producers are leaving a mark on consumers, and it's not easy to correct...

Ahh...these are the things we encounter on a daily basis! I definitely agree with the red wine consumption, seems as though you had a more educated consumer base than what we encounter at Harvest time (usually the non-wine drinking masses). I try to encourage the visitors to come back when we are not so busy so that we can really educate them! Generally they seem to want to learn, but it is difficult when there is 100's of people in the tasting hall. I hope that the amount of time that I spend educating my staff translates to the education of the consumer. Over the many years that I have been pouring wine, I believe that the educated wine consumer base has grown SO much stronger in the FLX and is continuing to grow.

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