The Crystal Creek Cellars Chardonnay 2014 is a $7.99 ALDI exclusive sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington State. In checking around the internet, it seems that Crystal Creek is produced for ALDI by a reputable wine company located in the Northwest. For years, I have read that ALDI wines routinely win awards in Europe and elsewhere, recently they won 53 awards at the International Wine Challenge in Sidney, Australia. But those wines never seemed to turn up on American ALDI store shelves. I found wines that were Ok for the price, but I was never inclined to buy them twice. That seems to have changed, I now find DOCG Prosecco, Paso Robles Red wine, North Coast Pinot Noir and some decent inexpensive wine from Napa. The Crystal Creek Cellars Chardonnay looks to be another step in the right direction. Columbia Valley is a terrific source for well priced wine, fruit forward, smooth, but with good structure. As a store brand, there is never much information about the production of this Chardonnay, but the back label mentions “toasty oak” and “vanilla“, so this Chard saw some sort of oak seasoning and was probably aged “on lees” (that is when the dead yeast and grape residue stays in the vats with the wine, it can impart a cashew flavor with a bit of cream). The alcohol content 13%.
The color is similar to apple juice or Extra Virgin olive oil. The nose is light and floral, pear, apricot, ripe apple, lemon and a spring bouquet. This is a smooth, balanced Chardonnay with a full mouth-feel. It tastes of apple, peach, pear and lemon The mid-palate adds tangy grapefruit, lime and a late dash of creamy vanilla. The acidity is pretty good, this Chardonnay has plenty of length for the flavors to unfold. This is a well-balanced, classy Chardonnay, usually 8 buck Chards are bright, bold picnic wines, but the Crystal Creek shows balance and restraint.
Chardonnay is like snow flakes, no 2 are exactly the same, which is maybe why it is the America’s most popular wine. I have always been able to find real good, inexpensive Chardonnay, I can think of a couple in the $5 range that really deliver. But they were in the picnic or party wine category, fun, juicy and cheap. The Crystal Creek Cellars Chardonnay 2014 aspires to be a French-style Chard, a little more sedate and elegant, more focused on structure than fruit. And this is a store brand $7.99 wine. I am not saying this is a greatest Chardonnay in the world or it will be your new favorite wine, but it is a Chardonnay that is well worth trying.