The Cachai Chardonnay 2018 is a $3.99 Trader Joe’s import exclusive sourced from vineyards in Chile. Normally when you see wine from Chile the label will show the Central Valley or some smaller valley as place of origin, but the Chacai (translates to “catch”) just says Chile. That would lead you to believe that the grapes are sourced from several regions. But the Trader Joe’s wine notes indicates the grapes were picked at night and quickly pressed, that is rather specific and seems to indicate a more singular location for the grapes. At $3.99 the Cachai comes close to 2 Buck Chuck territory, especially when you factor in the cost of shipping this Chardonnay from Chile to your local TJ’s.
According to the Fearless Flyer, this is a young, fresh Chardonnay, fermented and aged (at least for a short period of time) in stainless steel vats. No mention of malolactic fermentations or on lees, but they did mention something that I rarely see wineries talk about. They added toasted oak chips to the stainless steel tanks. This is a technique that delivers oak flavoring to the wine in a cost effective manner that still allows the Chardonnay to come together quickly and be ready for sale. An oak barrel can cost $1,000 and that is an expensive that will make inexpensive wines far more expensive. They use chips, staves, powder, all toasted to a specific flavor to add to the aging wine and winemakers have gotten very good at mixing just the right amount of oak seasoning to add interest to the wine and to give the allusion of a higher priced wine. But, you never see them admit to doing it in the tasting notes, its always “aged on oak”, like they poured the wine on the barrel not in it or they say “oak aging” not oak barrel aging. If they leave out any mention of a barrel you can surmise they used ships, staves, or powder. Not that any of this is wrong or bad, if it improves the flavor and the drinkability of inexpensive wine, then I am all for it. The alcohol content is 13%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is a pale butter yellow. The nose is husky, melons, green apples, and lemons with a floral gardenia edge, so far so good for a 4 buck Chardonnay. This is a medium bodied, crisp, fruit/citrus forward Chard with well-balanced acidity, a $3.99 food wine? It tastes of lemon/lime, ripe green apple, juicy pear, a little melon. It isn’t super complicated and it does not transition to a mid-palate (no secondary flavors), but what it does offer is tasty. The acidity is wonderful, it has the balance of far more expensive Chardonnay. I realize that folks don’t buy value priced Chardonnay for the acidity, but that the structure is solid is a very good sign. The acidity allows the finish to hang around for a good length of time.
- Is the Cachai Chardonnay a 2 Buck Chuck Killer? Well this tastes like an honest to goodness Chardonnay to me, the real deal and I almost never get that feeling from the Charles Shaw stuff.
- The Cachai is a very drinkable $3.99 Chardonnay, the nose shows a bit more melon than I prefer (I’m being picky), but it drinks fine and is perfectly suited for a warm summers night.
- Plus the acidity makes this a food wine, cold seafood, cheese, tapas, fancy salads will work well.