Last Saturday was the mini-wine tasting. Four friends, two bottles of wine, a couple wedges of cheese, and some crackers. Since we only had two bottles to taste we chose to forgo the spit bucket, and just drink it up.
The first wine was a Robert Mondavi 2006 Woodbridge Chardonnay. Not rated that I know of, and about $10 a bottle.
The second wine was a 2004 Patz & Hall Chardonnay. The Patz & Hall was the $40 wine that was "rated" by one of those magazines.
The first thing we noticed was that these were two very different wines. The Woodbridge was very fruity, smooth, a little creamy, and had no spice or oak to it. The Patz & Hall was much leaner--less of the creamy mouthfeel--more acidic, and had lots of oak and spice flavors and aromas up front.
It's safe to say that there was more going on in the Patz & Hall bottle, that it was more complex than the Woodbridge. But it didn't make us like the wine any better. In fact, the acidity was a little off-putting.
When we went back to the Woodbridge, that's when the fruitiness really came out, and we found we liked it even more after drinking the Patz Hall wine.
Now, I'm not saying that I disliked the Patz & Hall. In fact, since there was some left over, I had a glass of it with some brie the other night, and it was rather nice. But it certainly wasn't $30 worth better than the Woodbridge, especially when there's so many decent Chardonnays out there.
My thoughts? One, more money equals more complex, but does not necesarily translate into more enjoyment. Two, the Chardonnays were actually fairly different from each other in style, so a little hard to compare. And, finally, perhaps my palatte is not developed enough to appreciate a great wine, or to distinguish it from a good wine. That's fine with me. There are still wines out there I like, that are quirky, tasty, and pretty cheap, (like Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier) and I can still enjoy those knowing that I'm not really missing anything by being thrifty.
Update: Checked the Woodbridge site, and apparently there is just a touch of oak-aged wine that they add to the mix. But not much.