- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2003

LaLande, Chardonnay, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne, 2002, $11

Here’s proof that the world of wine is changing. Wines from the Cotes de Gascogne, west of the city of Toulouse in southwest France, long have tended to taste rustic and simple, but here’s a refined, refreshing Gascogne chardonnay.

Few people in the region know anything about the varietal, but this wine tastes better than virtually any comparably priced wine from Burgundy, chardonnay’s original French home. In fact, it outperforms almost all under $15 chardonnays on the market today.

Two factors have led to this sort of exciting change — not only in the French hinterlands, but also in previously obscure winegrowing regions all over the world.

The first is modern technology, particularly temperature-controlled fermentation, that allows vintners better control of the quality of the wines they make.

The second is ambition. Visionary winemakers today sample wines from all over the world, not just their local appellations. Inspired by what they taste, they aim to make new and better wines. The result for consumers is a bevy of exciting, value-priced offerings from heretofore remote places.

This bright chardonnay offers a fruit basket of flavors, with plenty of backbone and stuffing, but nary a trace of oak. A super summer sipper, it should drink well over the next year with all sorts of poultry and seafood dishes. Run, don’t walk, to try it. (Imported by Robert Kacher Selections)

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