The Broken Clouds Chardonnay 2014 is an $8.99 ALDI exclusive sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma Coast AVA north of San Francisco. Normally when checking the internet for information about an ALDI wine there is virtually nothing to be found, maybe a bottle shot and a vague sentence. But with the Broken Cloud wine, ALDI has vineyard photos and several paragraphs. That is because the Sonoma Coast is one of the premier California Chardonnay growing regions (Pinot Noir, too) and you never find a wine from there selling for nine bucks. This Chardonnay is mostly oak barrel fermented (the rest fermented in stainless steel tanks and then blended in), again details that do not normally occur in $9 wine. That is the interesting thing about private label wines, these are negociant wines, that is a French term and it refers to the practice of going to a winery and either purchasing surplus wine or having them create a new, unique wine. These wines are sold under a different label at a substantial discount and to not step on the sales of the producing wineries existing wines, the name of the winery is kept secret (though if you look at the back label of the Broken Cloud it is fairly easy to guess where this Chardonnay was made). Trader Joe’s, ALDI, Costco, Cameron Hughes and Don Sebastiani are well-known American negociants and if you pay attention to the information on their wine labels you can explore wines from top-notch regions at bargain prices. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a clear sunshine yellow. The nose is delicate, apples, pears, a little peach, some lemon and the light scent of garden flowers. This Chardonnay is on the light side of medium-bodied, dry, with a good balance between fruit and citrus flavors. It tastes of a mix of ripe pear and juicy peach, Golden delicious apple and lemon cream. The mid-palate adds melon, a hint of spice and smooth vanilla. The acidity is well-balanced, it is nicely covered by the body of the wine, but you will be smacking your lips just a little, a sure sign that there is enough acidity to be a good food wine. The finish is full and lengthy.
The Broken Clouds Chardonnay 2014 is a grown up, elegant 9 buck Chardonnay. Most Chardonnay in this price range is ripe and juicy, just the thing for a picnic or an outdoor concert. The Broken Clouds Chardonnay drinks like a Chardonnay that sells for twice the price (that may be because a version of this may very well sell for 2x the price). This is one of those wines that you ask your guests to guess the price, then watch their faces when you tell them what you actually paid for it.