Should the United States have a wine classification system along the lines of what you find in other countries like France, Italy or Germany? That is the question that came to mind as I drank this wine.
You see, this wine is very clearly aimed at the bottom of the market. After all, it’s a non-vintage “American” wine – meaning they can source the grapes from anywhere within the 50 states (and maybe even anywhere from within North or South America as that would still be a truthful claim) and they can blend grape juices from more than one harvest year to get a potable product. If this were sold in France, it’d be a Vin de Table which is their lowest rung of classification. While that classification doesn’t necessarily mean a vintner will charge less per bottle than a competitor in the Vin de Pays class, it does serve as a quick indicator to the consumer that they shouldn’t be paying top dollar.
Although the regular retail price of this wine is by no means top dollar, it is considerably higher than the wines which are of the same ilk and against which this wine appears meant to compete. For instance, the Charles Shaw wines can be had at the local Trader Joe’s for $3.29, and the Three Wishes line at Whole Foods is priced exactly the same. Why, then, does the local Safeway put a regular price of $6.99 on this bottle? Could it be to snag uneducated consumers unawares? After all, I bought this on sale for $3.49. So it looks to me like the store realizes that is about what this Chardonnay should be selling for – period.
Notes: This Safeway private label Chardonnay was a bright lemon yellow. It’s body was on the lighter side of medium with good acidity while alcohol came in at 12.5%. On the palate I found pear, grapefruit, grass, and a touch of honey. At times during it’s trip across my tongue it was quite weak. Overall, though, it was pretty much OK.