The 2010 The Original Darkhorse Chardonnay is $7.99 Trader Joe’s wine, but it does not seem to be a TJ’s exclusive and is available on the web for the same price. The Original Darkhorse is one of E & J Gallo’s 58 brands. I have high hopes for this Chardonnay, we posted the Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon a few months ago and it was a rare commodity , a $7.99 California Cabernet Sauvignon that had body, taste and character. It had a delicious Starbucks Venti Mocha aspect to it that really made it stand out from the crowd. The Darkhorse Chardonnay is sourced from grapes grown in Lodi, Clarksburg and the Delta area of California’s Central Valley (south of Napa and Sonoma, north of the Central Coast AVA). The various lots of grapes were aged “on lees” for 6 to 8 months in stainless steel tanks. “On lees” indicates that all the dead yeast and grape residue were left in the tanks to add some depth, a nutty flavor and a bit of creamy texture. The Darkhorse website says, “They married creamy hints of oak character to the wine,” which seems to indicate that oak chips or staves were added to the tanks to impart flavor, but no aging properties. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is extra virgin olive oil yellow. The nose is pretty, pineapple and pear, along with honey and butterscotch. The nose seemed to indicate more oak influence than I thought, but it takes just one sip to find that this a very lightly oaked Chardonnay. It tastes of pear, Macintosh apples, fresh Michigan peaches and lemon chiffon. The mid palate shows hint of butter, grapefruit and the acidity makes itself known. The acidity is balanced and helps put a shine on all the various flavors. As an added bonus, the acidity helps the finish linger on and on and on.
Well, I think The Original Darkhorse did it again, an $7.99 wine that tastes like a California Chardonnay is supposed to taste, but also adds a little flair. A versatile Chardonnay, it has the flavor and body to stand up to bold dishes and the subtlety to not overpower delicate dishes, while being cheap enough to be this summers go-to everyday White wine.