For years, I’ve told people at wine tastings that chardonnay takes several different forms, one of which is chablis.
“Oh, no!” say some who remember California jug wines with that name. Plonk, but they didn’t know it was usually crafted from cheap grapes with the least possible character so it could sell for pennies.
In North America it may be too much to expect that a vintner could produce chablis-style chardonnay as it’s found in France — minerally, stony-steely, fairly low alcohol . . . but bright and alive in the mouth and nose.
Kendall-Jackson’s famed Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay is not at all like chablis. But their new Avant — “fresh, crisp, clean” as it says on the label — is all that the winemaker claims. Lemon, green apple, and Asian fruit flavors and indeed clean and bracing. The acids are bright, bright; and the aftertaste is satisfyingly long.
I’m sensitive to residual sugar, and fancy that I detect a little, but if it’s in there it’s lower than most folks would notice. Unlike most chardonnays, I think this one will be great with a wide variety of foods. I’ve only tried one bottle, but I’ll try some more. It’s under $10 around here.