The 2010 The County Fair “I have Seen The Elephant” Mendocino County Chardonnay is a Trader Joe’s ($6.99) exclusive. The wine is produced by the HHD, LLC, which has been buying up vineyards and wineries in California and they control or have ties with some first class vineyards and wineries. Like most Trader Joe’s wines there isn’t a great deal of information available on the making of this Chardonnay, but the back of the bottle mentions oak spice flavors, so this wine has seen some oak barrel aging. The alcohol content is 13.7%.
The color is lemon slice in mineral water yellow. The nose is honeysuckle and pineapple, sliced apple and pear with a touch of lemon on the edges. It tastes of sour green apple and canned pineapple juice (with just a touch of sugar added) followed by cantaloupe and Limeade. This is not a complex wine with tons of depth, but it does taste good, tart and bright with a good measure of palate cleansing acidity. If there was oak barrel aging it does not show in the flavor profile, maybe a little butter on the mid palate, but thats about it. The finish is light and lasts a decent amount of time.
The County Fair Chardonnay is a full flavored wine with as many sour, tangy flavors as fresh fruit and citrus flavors, and that is a nice change of pace, this is not a cookie cutter Chardonnay, like so many under ten dollar Chardonnays. Wine is all about the journey, not the destination, don’t be afraid to try wines you may not be crazy about, because you learn just as much about wine from the misses as from the hits. Not that The County Fair Chardonnay is a miss, because any time you find yourself reaching for a second glass of a $6.99 wine means that bottle is a solid base hit.