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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Two Buck Chuck Crushes California Chardonnays

Back in 1976, California rocked the wine world when its wines beat out French wines in a blind tasting at what has become known as the Judgment of Paris. Now it is the California wine world that is being rocked with the expected announcement that a $1.99 bottle of Charles Shaw Chardonnay has been named the best in the state at the the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

A record number of 3,029 wines from 660 California vintners were sampled earlier this month by 16 panels of 64 wine judges. Winning wineries are just now starting to receive word of the results, but news has leaked out that Charles Shaw is the top chardonnay for 2007.

Shaw is nicknamed Two Buck Chuck because in California it sells for $1.99 at the Trader Joe's grocery chain. Elsewhere around the country you will find it for $2.99 at Trader Joe's. Made by Franzia's Bronco Winery, the Shaw label has been viewed by many as a good -- not great -- wine with a very democratic price. Now with the California State Fair victory, you can expect the label to get some much deserved respect.

Two Buck Chuck is benefiting from a recent glut of quality grapes in California. The volume of Bronco's production helps keep costs down. I have tried several Shaw varietals and have a couple of bottles of the Chardonnay in my wine refrigerator at the moment thanks to a purchase my wife made at a Trader Joe's in the Raleigh area. It will be interesting to see if consumers make a run on the wine when they learn that you don't have to spend upwards of $50 to get the highest rated chardonnay in all of California.


Anonymous said...

I have heard a lot of people say that 2 buck chuck has huge variation from bottle to bottle, not just due to misprocessing, but due to different grapes used. How do we know that Charles Shaw didn't submit what they knew were their best bottles to the competition?

Rick Lyke said...

I have limited experience with Charles Shaw Wine, but have always found them to be drinkable. As for the Chardonnay, my wife and I had one of the bottles we had in storage about a week ago. It was good. Perhaps not "the best" in all of California, but quite good.