Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: Twisted Chardonnay

Making cheap Chardonnay is like playing rock guitar: Everybody does it; hardly anybody does it well.    

The folks at California's Twisted Wine Cellars do it pretty well. Well enough, in fact, for their 2007 vintage to grab a gold medal at this year's San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which just happens to be the world's largest competition for American wines (and where I just happened to judge for a couple of years). And did I mention that Twisted Chard sells for around $8? No flies on that.    

What we've got here is a very drinkable wine with a good bit more Chardonnay character than you usually see at this price. It's full of bright-tasting fruit -- mango, peach, orange -- with just enough underlying acidity to walk the line between fruity and tutti-frutti. It's a little on the ripe-sweet side but not cloyingly so, and it would really rock with grilled chicken or meaty fish like tuna or salmon.

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Bill Citara