Where does the term headsnapper come from? What does it mean? Does anybody know?
I’ve come upon three possible meanings thus far. 1. something so shocking, unexpected or interesting that it makes you whip your head around to look at it; 2. something that is too expensive or a bad deal (perhaps surprisingly so); 3. fish bait (red snapper heads are evidently often used as bait).
If the label art is any clue as to what the folks at It’s A Headsnapper mean when they use the term, it is likely to be something akin to the first definition. Then again, there is a fourth possibility that occurs to me. The woman on the label looks as though she might be dancing while squeezing the juice from grapes into a glass. So maybe she’s a dancer who likes to whip her head about.
Winemaker: It’s A Headsnapper
Appellation: Sonoma County, California
Notes: This Sonoma Chardonnay brought citrus, grass and turpentine to the nose. With bright acidity, it’s heft on the palate was on the light side of medium. Alcohol at 13.9%, the flavor profile I found included citrus (lemon turning to grapefruit), grass, and chalk with some turpentine and woody notes. Speaking of the label once again, my tasting notes bear almost no resemblance to the description of this wine on the back of the bottle. All I can do is share what I tasted!
Some wines are refined and well-behaved. Others are a bold mouthful of flavors sometimes striking out in unexpected directions. Still others are one-dimensional and boring. Then you have what I’ll call the pinballers that bounce around on your taste buds like a rabbit with it’s tail on fire. The last was my experience with this white from down under.
Winemaker: Yellow Tail
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Notes: In the glass this Aussie Chardonnay was a pretty light shade of gold. Scents that rose from the glass were pineapple, oak and pepper. Alcohol was at 13% in this medium-bodied wine. Acidity was moving toward high, and there was a definite sense of viscosity on the tongue. I thought it was an unsophisticated white with flavors of sweet pineapple, grass, oak, and a note of hot peppers. It is, of course, a very inexpensive bottle of wine. Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical.
My family has an interesting story about butter. My grandfather grew up on a farm, and they did, indeed, churn their own butter. One day when he was a young fellow, my grandfather and his siblings decided it would be fun to see who could eat the most butter in one sitting. Can you believe it? What seems to a level-headed adult a questionable pursuit at best was to my future grandfather a grand dare. Until, of course, he had ingested as much of the butter as he could handle. Unfortunately, all that buttery goodness at one time was truly too much of a good thing. It left a lasting impression because, after that day, my grandfather never ate another pad of butter. But my mother and her siblings came up with their own butter dare. Just to tease my grandfather, they would sneakily pass the butter around the table during dinner until they managed to have it sitting right in front of him. Once he noticed, of course, he would insist on it’s immediate removal from his close proximity. Ah, kids!
Winemaker: Big Churn
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This inexpensive California white was light yellow with scents of lemon verbena and butterscotch on the nose. Dry at 14.5% alcohol, the Big Churn was medium-bodied with what I would describe as perky acidity. Flavors I tasted were lemon pudding, oak, hints of butterscotch and lingering grass. With a name like Big Churn – not to mention the label art – you would expect a big buttery Chardonnay. I don’t think it quite lived up to it’s moniker, but I thought it was still a respectable glass of white wine for the price.
For my return to the trenches, I decided to start with a celebratory Chardonnay. Honestly, any glass of wine would have been a joyous experience. Of course, after over half a year as a teetotaler, I knew I wasn’t ready for a big chewy red.
Winemaker: Nine Points
Appellation: Napa Valley
Notes: This Napa Chardonnay was a pretty light yellow in the glass with scents of citrus, grass and warm spices. It was medium bodied with a decent amount of viscosity to it. Acidity was quite high and alcohol was at 14.2%. As for flavors, I found apple, citrus, grass, hot pepper, hints of warm spices and lanolin. Not a bad pick at all for my first glass back.
Some wines I remember for their impact on my senses – their bouquet, their flavors. Others I remember as part of what I was doing when I drank them – at a birthday party, concert, special restaurant, etc. When I popped the cork on this bottle, my sweetie and I had decided to catch up on our pop culture and begin watching Season 1 of the show True Detective via HBO Now. I truly didn’t realize how dark the story line would be, or I might have opted for something else. The juxtaposition of a light white wine and the grim crimes being investigated on the screen, however, may have made both more memorable.
Winemaker: Viña Maipo
Wine: Mi Pueblo
Appellation: Central Valley, Chile
Notes: This light-bodied, light-hued Chardonnay had bright acidity and a bouquet consisting of lemon, pineapple and spice. Alcohol was at 13%. On the palate I tasted lemon, pineapple, grass and a very forward kerosene note. I’d suggest pairing this with food as (for me) the kerosene note was a bit off-putting. Maybe that’s why it was marked down from $12 to $5.
It’s never too early to begin planning ahead for the fall holiday season. I know some of you have already begun to think about holiday presents! But before we get to the big November and December holidays, there is one we mustn’t forget – Halloween.
Now, Halloween isn’t really a big foodie holiday – unless you consider candy to be a food group. On second thought, maybe it IS a food group…. Setting that debate aside, Halloween is definitely a holiday for fun and frolick, parties, costumes and trick-or-treating. If you’re planning a bash to celebrate All Hallows Eve, you may want to give this Australian Chardonnay consideration. Although I personally lean toward more red wines in the autumn and winter, you will no doubt have guests who want a glass of white wine. And this selection from Benefactor Cellars has the perfect label for celebrating Halloween.
Winemaker: Benefactor Cellars
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This Aussie Chardonnay was pale yellow in color with a perfumey bouquet. At 13.2% alcohol, it had good acidity. Surprisingly, the Benefactor Cellars was light-bodied in the continental style. On the palate I found a fairly simple, straight-forward flavor profile consisting of citrus with toasty oak notes. I’d say this is not a selection for the wine connoisseurs, but I think it could work for a casual celebration where the focus was on friends and costumes rather than on the food and drink.
What exactly IS a top hat? Where did top hats come from?
Well, as far as what it is … you can look at the art on the wine label to work that out. Where they come from – that’s an interesting question. Looks like they started out in the 1500’s in what is today the Netherlands. Those hats – predecessors to today’s top hat – are commonly known as sugar loaf hats and were worn by men and women. They also became part of the stereotypical dress of the Puritans who emigrated from England to America (many via Holland). It was in the late 1700’s that someone got the idea to cover them with silk. And so the version we see in the picture here came into being – and fashion. Primarily worn by men, the silk top hat was considered a statement of elegance in it’s heyday. No longer a part of everyday attire, the silk top hat still retains an upper class vibe. It has become associated with magic as well. Stage magicians commonly use them to pull rabbits, doves, flowers, etc. out of. Looks to me as though this Top Hat label might be suggesting a touch of viniferous magic.
Winemaker: Top Hat
Notes: This Top Hat was pale yellow in the glass. It had a pleasant bouquet with scents of golden apple and citrus accompanied by floral notes. It was light-bodied, and I thought acidity fairly high. Flavors were straightforward – toasty oak, citrus and wildflowers. I was surprised the apple in the nose wasn’t reflected on the palate, but that may well have been a function of the acidity. On the whole, I found it to be a pretty decent bottle of inexpensive Chardonnay.
A few posts ago I mentioned a birthday party I’d been a part of. No, it wasn’t my birthday but that of a family member. The party at the Italian restaurant was basically a sibling celebration with their spouses and children. However, the festivities weren’t over after the cannoli and tiramisu. No, indeed!
See, this was one of those BIG birthdays. A milestone, if you will. So I helped put together a surprise party for friends and extended family the very next night. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard at keeping something a secret (and certain that I had failed miserably). We ordered a cake from a bakery and Thai food from a local eatery for this party. Then everyone gathered at a friend’s house while I had the task of wrangling the guest of honor. You know, making sure they got there and at the right time. Man, was I sweating it!
Seems we did OK. If nothing else, the honoree feigned surprise well. To go with the cake and Thai we served a few wines along with the requisite seltzer, soda and lemonade. I thought this Simi Chardonnay was pretty good with the seafood rice dish and the vegetable spring rolls. Given that the cake was chocolate, I switched for dessert.
Appellation: Sonoma County, CA
Price: $12.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: The Simi was a pretty, vibrant yellow. On the nose I smelled primarily pineapple. I thought acidity was good, and it was medium-bodied with 13.5% alcohol. This was a very flavorful wine. I found pineapple, vanilla, a touch of butter, some grass and chalk at the finish. It was definitely a good one for me. I’d happily drink it again and can imagine it would make a nice accompaniment to a range of fowl, fish and salad dishes.
I try not to consult the winemaker’s or wineseller’s notes on a particular wine when I’m looking for a new wine experience. Yes, I know they can prove helpful in finding things we think we’ll like based on the flavors we prefer and the wine experiences we’ve enjoyed in the past. I definitely find them useful when searching for a wine to accompany a particular meal or for an occasion. And I can’t completely ignore them if – as in some retailers – descriptors are posted with every selection. But since I don’t want all my wines to taste the same, I don’t pay close attention to them when I’m browsing.
I also try not to read the back label before drinking a wine on the chance that it’ll contain tasting notes. I don’t want my own experience to be affected by the suggestions of certain flavors and aromas being present. I don’t think I’m all that easily beguiled, but I like the idea of starting with a blank slate when experiencing a wine for the first time. And my experience has proved that, although often similar to what I taste, I don’t always agree with winemaker notes. In some cases their notes and mine are quite different. This wine is a case in point. You can read the importer’s/winemaker’s description by clicking on the picture. My notes are below. Like night and day almost. If you have tried this selection, I’d be interested in hearing what you found.
Appellation: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Price: $14.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This Chilean Chardonnay was pale yellow in the glass with a faint bouquet of lanolin, citrus and spice. Acidity seemed good, and alcohol was at 13.5%. Flavors I found consisted primarily of clementine and grass with fleeting whispers of spice. I found it to be a somewhat restrained selection. Not the average New World Chardonnay. I liked it!
As you know, I’m always on the lookout for a good value in wine. A few weeks ago I was at my local Giant grocery store and spotted a fellow at a table giving out tastes of wine. When I strode over to see what was up, I found he had several selections from The Monterey Vineyards by Chalone Vineyards at a special super-low, closeout price. I tried them and decided I liked the Chardonnay best.
Interestingly enough, the name “Monterey” struck a chord with me. I don’t have any history or personal connection with Monterey, California or Monterrey, Mexico. However … my grandmother grew up in Monterey, Tennessee – what she called Monkeytown. Believe me, that nickname was by no means meant in disrespect. It was a term of endearment she and her siblings used in referring to their childhood home. Some remained in Monterey their entire lives. My grandmother, however, was swept off her feet and away by a handsome young mailman.
Whether it was the great price (got it for $7.99) or some sentimental impulse, I bought and enjoyed a bottle of their Chardonnay.
Winemaker: The Monterey Vineyards
Appellation: Monterey County, CA
Notes: This Monterey white was pretty pale yellow in color. On the nose I got a tart lemon-lime scent. It was medium-bodied with high acidity. Alcohol was at 13%. It had plenty of flavor – abundant citrus, toasty oak, butterscotch notes, and green herbs. It had a nice long finish, too. Pretty darned good in my book. Will look for it again.