Friday, June 1, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: How Rose Valley Winery Chardonnay Saved Me From Bottle Shock

I have every faith that when I buy a bottle of wine (or case, if I happen to be at certain stores with the initials "Trader Joe's) that it won't kill me. Or at least that it won't make me sick. Or wrinkle my nose and shout "Ewww!" And I'm not talking about a wine I simply don't like the taste of. I'm talking about the dreaded "bottle shock".

Bottle shock occurs when a wine has had a rather rough passage getting to your store (it can also happen when it's actually bottled and has to do with oxygen and sulphur dioxide but that's science and I'm not going any further with that explanation). It is also called wine sickness, although I totally thought THAT term referred to an individual, the morning get the idea. Bottle shock is usually temporary, but that means you need to let the unopened bottle rest a bit after its journey. If you are an unsuspecting shopper and you open a bottle of shocked wine...well, see the above "Ewww."

Such was the case with me a few weeks ago, when I bought what looked to be a very promising bottle of Australian Riesling. I opened the bottle, poured a bit, swirled, sniffed...and got a snoutful of latex party balloons. Seriously, you know the smell when you open up a bag of balloons (those of you with children will know this smell very well, depending on the number of birthday parties/water balloon fights you have staged over the years)? I sipped. Still the balloon taste. Very rubbery, very factory.  I switched wine glasses. Still there. I waited overnight. Nope, still there. I returned it to the store where my wine proprietor took one sniff and pronounced the diagnosis: Bottle Shock.

She then asked me if I'd like another bottle of the wine. Well...I'd originally purchased the wine to do a review of an Australian wine, and had already gone on and written another review on a totally different wine. And while I am generally a brave type of person, I didn't want to chance it again. So I asked her about a wine I'd seen featured in the store recently, Rose Valley Winery. She said it was a good one. So I went home with a bottle of the Chardonnay (2010, 13.5%, Sonoma Co, CA).

And I'm so glad I did! This is a beautiful wine - light gold in color with aromas of melon and citrus. It  tastes of lush cantaloupe with a zesty overlay of lime. This wine is a great example of balance between oaky Chardonnay and totally non-oaked Chardonnay. It feels just right in my mouth - not too thin, not to thick...just a nice, crisp feel and taste. The finish is citrusy and lingers nicely.

So, my first experience with bottle shock wound up not to be too shocking after all. I got to discover a new tasty, inexpensive (it cost me $8.99) Chardonnay and realized that my taste buds had not turned into latex party balloons. A good day.

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