2 Chardonnays – a Study in Contrasts. Both under $10 – from Trader Joe’s!

Fast facts:

  • 2019 Mâcon-Verzé Chardonnay, France ($8.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)
  • 2018  The Divine Chardonnay, Los Carneros, California ($7.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California) 

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world. And like most grape varieties, how it tastes has a lot to do with where it’s grown.  In this post, we are highlighting Chardonnay from two the the places in the world that have become famous due in no small part to the humble Chardonnay grape: the Burgundy region of France, and the Carneros region in Northern California.

Front label of Macon Verze 2019 from Trader Joe's
The right grape, from the right place and – at $8.99 – the right price!

 

Tasting Notes:

A lively wine with a bouquet of wet stone, citrus and white flowers.  Bright flavors of peach, pear and ripe apple. Though lush, there is good acidity underpinning it. Nice clean lingering finish. Serve chilled as a pre-dinner drink or with salty snacks and apetizers, crab cakes, white risottos, grilled fish, sushi and goat cheese.

The Mâconnais district is located in the south of France’s esteemed Burgundy wine region whose its world-famous wines are made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. It takes its name from the town of Mâcon. Almost all the wine made in the Mâconnais is white wine, and Chardonnay is the main grape grown in the district. The vineyards there are grown on calcareous clay and chalky limestone soils, and you can taste it in their wines.

Curious where exactly in France you will find Burgundy?  This should help:

Map of French Wine Regions
The world famous French wine region of Burgundy is highlighted here in bright red.

 

It’s a great time to be a value-seeking wine consumer.  Even before Covid altered the world as we know it, after several consecutive high yielding harvests in California, inventories were rising, and prices were falling.  Then the pandemic hit and rivers of wine that would normally be consumed at what we in the wine trade call “on-premise accounts” (these are the places where wine is consumed onsite, like restaurants) got stuck in distributor’s warehouses.

How do you move a bunch of bloated inventory?  Well, by discounting it!

These factors have lead to wines like The Divine, which drinks like a $20 Napa Chardonnay, to be getting blown out at Trader Joe’s for $7.99.  Win!

Front label of The Divine, Los Carneros 2019 Chardonnay from Trader Joe's
Also the right grapes from the right place. And beautiful packaging to boot. The price can be our little secret…

Tasting Notes:

Nice wheat yellow color. The nose has a little bit of weight behind it, foreshadowing its body of citrus, green apple, spice, Anjou pear, a little dollop tropical fruit. Its acidity is well-balanced and the additional years of aging has resulted in a elegant wine that is well-intergrated.

 

At the southern tip of  Sonoma and Napa (the vineyards for the Divine Chardonnay are located in the Napa side) Los Carneros is a world-class Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay growing region that connects and straddles the two, as shown below:

 

Map of Napa Valley showing Carneros region.
Map of Napa Valley showing Carneros, in green.

 

So to summarize, although these two wines are similar in price and made from the same Chardonnay grape, they are stylistically quite different.  The French one is much cleaner and leaner, showing more of the true fruit characteristics. The California one tastes like a California Chardonnay should taste. But both taste like they should sell for more than their price points. So it’s a matter of personal preference, but for under $20, I suggest you try both, and then let us know your favorite by using the comments section on this post, or opining on our Facebook page.

And if your  shopping finds you at Trader Joe’s, you can find our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.

If you’re headed to Costco soon yourself, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.

Happy hunting!

Cheers!

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