- 2019 Pop Up Sparkling, 100% Chardonnay, Evergreen Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington ($4.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
This one was hard to pass by in a recent visit to Trader Joe’s.
First there was the packaging. Striking, colorful and dare we say, adorable? From the crown cap on down? It reminded us of some wines we discovered at Trader Joe’s this past spring.
But once you look past these novelties and window dressing, you start to realize that this wine could be downright interesting – delicious even. A quick read of the front label tells you that the wine is estate-grown AND vineyard-designated. The right stuff!
Then we roll this baby over and the back label makes it known that this is 100% Chardonnay and “the mind behind” the wine is none other than Charles Smith, probably the best known winemaker in Washington State. Mr. Smith’s middle initiails should be Q.P.R. And he should go by those initials so that when we greet him on the street we can shower him with “hi(gh) QPR!”
Does it surprise you that this is a 100% sparkling Chardonnay? It shouldn’t. After all, Chardonnay is one of the top three wine grapes that go into making Champagne. Which this isn’t. Some people refer generically to ALL sparkling wines as Champagne. But in reality, Champagne can only come from a very specific region of France. This then, is a sparkling wine.
The other thing that distinguishes this from French Champagne are its bubbles. French renditions are famous for their delicate “tiny bubbles”. The bubbles in this American version are bigger, a bit rougher. One could say they are metaphors for their respective countries, and I might just agree.
A clean, pretty nose of tart lemons, green apple, tangerine oil, pear, stone and baguette. (Bready and yeasty notes in sparkling wines are always a good thing!) Hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, nicely balanced with integrated acidity, plenty of fruit, and a great finish. Crisp and refreshing.
The winemakers assessment of the vintage: “the 2019 vintage was on the cooler side as it started slow with later-than-usual bud break and continued on to be fairly moderate throughout the year. Some vineyards had issues with an October freeze a bit earlier than usual, but high-elevation vineyards have great air drainage which allows us to extend the growing season late into October without freeze. This yielded fantastic ripening and some awesome wines with incredible balance and character. Overall, we are excited about the wine produced in 2019, which has brought us more finesse, incredible flavors and lovely balance.
That explains it! But maybe not its $4.99 price tag.
You can’t go wrong with having lots of bubbly on hand in this final month of the year. After all, there are holiday mimosas and New Year’s Eve on the horizon and we just might take the advice of reader Maureen and make our featured wines this month all about effervesence!
If your weekend finds you shopping at your local TJ’s, keep an eye out for our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine. It’s a shopping list comprised of our most recent reviews.
If you’re headed to Costco soon, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list of Costco wine finds.