Butterballs - Printable Version

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- Karena Shannon - 01-12-1999

Had over the last four weeks, three wines that fit this description pretty well. I buy stuff like this, drink them, and then moan to Jake, “Why don’t we drink more______”(Rieslings, Champagne, Vouvray, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume---fill in the blank). I think the food secret to matching these wines is the use of butter. If you get crazy with the butter, like scampis, Fettuccine Alfredo, or with rich seafood that has a buttery texture like lobster or sturgeon, then you’ll be alright.
’94 Benziger Pinot Blanc “Imagery Series---Sonoma Mtn”: I like Benziger. I think that they normally do a great job with their Imagery series, highlighting obscure varieties like Malbec, Petite Verdot, and now Pinot Blanc. Their Zin is tasty too. How did they do with this? This wine would kill Marshall stone dead at fifteen paces. A nauseating overripe Chardonnay-lite with enough wood to…I’ll just paraphrase Greg Ellis that, if the crew of the S.S. Minnow had a few bottles of this, they could have rebuilt their ship and floated home! Passion fruit, date, coconut flavors. Nice acidity, but still extremely creamy and “vanillaey” in the mouth. It makes Kistler Chards look like models of restraint.
’94 Beckmen Chardonnay “Santa Ynez Vly”: Not much fruit there. Not much there period, besides lightly toasted oak, some butter, some acid. It wasn’t terrible, just undistinguished and a waste of time.
’95 J. Fritz Chardonnay “Dutton Ranch Reserve”: This had a seeping cork, so I’m not displeased that we had it now, but it tastes like a wine that could use a little more time. Nice palate weight, plenty of your CA butter and oak, but this was marked by higher acidity than normal for this style. It seemed brooding, like it would blossom if it were given a couple more years of cellaring. It wasn’t bad though.
What differentiated this from the Benziger was an absence of tropical fruit flavors and better “knitting” together of flavors. Make no mistake, it’s still a butterball, and if you hate them, you’ll hate this one too. But this is a butter ball I didn’t feel too bad about buying.