I’ll be honest. I have never been a chardonnay fan except for this brief period in college when I was trying to avoid reds and got really into that oaky, buttery Chardonnay game. However, it quickly ran its course and then I never wanted to taste notes of oak or butter again. I should note that the Chardonnay I was drinking was most likely under $7 and mass-produced nonsense. I learned to appreciate other white wines, mostly crisp, light wines like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and later Grüner Veltliner and even Viognier. I replaced butter and oak with herbs and fruit and loved it.
I wanted to give Chardonnay another chance though since it’s probably been seven years since I bought a bottle and I figured I shouldn’t swear off an entire varietal just because of a few bad experiences. I went into my wine shop and said, “look, I don’t like Chardonnay, but I want to try it again, what would you recommend?” And this is why I love wine shops, they know their shit. The woman working showed me a range of unoaked Chardonnay that she promised were light and fruity not at all heavy and full of Bath and Body Works vanilla body spray notes (my words). I chose the Bernier Chardonnay because she swore it was good and it was less than $15. At least if I ended up hating it, I wouldn’t hate myself too.
The Bernier Vineyard is located in the Loire Valley of France and their website claims that they were the first to plant Chardonnay in the region more than 25 years ago. The wine smells bright and energetic, not at all what I expected out of a Chardonnay. It evokes apricots and green apples and tastes like nectarines, peaches and all of the light stone fruits. Also pamplemousse La Croix. It almost reminds me of a great Sauvignon Blanc because of its fruitiness and crispness but it still has the bigger body of a Chardonnay.
I’m pairing this with chicken fajitas and the light sweetness cuts through the spice while the fruitiness enhances the mango salsa I should have used. I would love to be in Mexico City right now, where I would probably be eating something more authentic than chicken fajitas. I would be checking out Frida Kahlo’s Blue House and taking all of the pics (and selfies) in the world. But guess what, this is reality and I’m in Kansas. But this wine can transport you. Maybe the winemakers didn’t assume I would be transported to Mexico City but hey, you never know where you’ll end up! If you are a Chardonnay nay-sayer, go to your local wine shop and ask for a great unoaked Chardonnay. I am now referring to myself as a Chardonnay convert rather than a former nay-sayer.