Monday, March 22, 2010

Wines I'm Drinking: 1999 Rutz Cellars Maison Grand Cru RRV Chardonnay

When I bought this wine I didn't look carefully at the vintage. I'm not sure I would have tried it if I had. I don't know many California Chardonnays that can age 10 years gracefully (which is not to say there are none). I didn't realize this was a wine from 1999 until I sat down to drink it.

The 1999 Rutz Cellars Maison Grand Cru Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($4.99 at Grocery Outlet) was a bright gold--very pretty in the glass--but, ominously, rather dark. I was expecting it to be somewhat oxidized. The nose, however, betrayed very little--at least at first. With some time, it began to suggest melons and then floral scents such as hawthorn and linden. These were followed by hints of Play-Doh (I wish I had a more elegant descriptor, but Play-Doh is right on the money) and finally by mint. The nose was encouraging.

On the palate, the wine came across as rather sweet, with a somewhat heavy, butterscotch flavor predominant, but it was actually more lively (had more acid, that is) than I would have thought likely. The flavors were slightly suggestive of oxidation, but the wine was not at all unpleasant and it had enough complexity to keep it moderately interesting--suggesting melons, ripe pineapples, and later honey in addition to the butterscotch. Slightly bitter on the moderately long finish.

I don't think I'll buy this particular wine again (I'm afraid it's over the hill), but  I enjoyed tasting it nevertheless and it makes me wonder what the Rutz Cellars Chardonnays are like when they are fresh. Probably well worth exploring. I enjoyed the wine with grilled chicken flavored with rosemary and Meyer lemons.

This is one of a group of wines I'm reviewing this week ahead of one of the two big wine sales Grocery Outlet holds each year (20% off all wines from March 30 through April 3), looking for underpriced gems. More tomorrow.

GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY: As part of the promotion, I'm giving away a $50 Grocery Outlet gift card this week. To be eligible to win, all you have to do is comment on one of my Grocery Outlet reviews this week (March 22-26), Tweet about a one of the reviews or post a message about one of the reviews on Facebook. The winner will be selected at random from all eligible readers. The winner must agree to blog or tweet about what the card ends up buying at Grocery Outlet. That's all there is to it. Good Luck!

(For more information about the promotion, see my initial post on the subject. See more wine reviews by clicking the "Wines I'm Drinking" label in the bar at right.)


  1. your wine blog entries are always interesting to read ... I'm a bargain shopper and buy the majority of the wines I drink from Grocery Outlet ... fabulous deals are there - just need to try a few, see what I like and then get back quickly before they sell out ...

  2. Can't wait to read more of your wine reviews from wine purchased at Grocery Outlet.


  3. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews. I'm a dedicated Grocery Outlet shopper, and I'm always surprised and delighted by their wine selection.

  4. I've been purchasing wines at Grocery Outlet for many years -- some are great, some not so much. This is why I'm so excited to read your reviews. This way I can be sure that I'm getting a decent wine at an unbelieveable price.


  5. Now that I've read your opinion on this wine I am wondering if you have reviewed the one I just tried. Saddlers Peak Napa Valley red wine. After watching Bottle Shock I wanted to try a Napa Valley wine. This red was only $5.99! I cannot describe it in detail but it is sweet and musky at the same time, just how I like reds.

  6. So excited to hear more reviews about the wines at GO. They all look so good, I have a hard time picking one out.

  7. i love getting bargain wines at GO! i like to look for new whites and pinks and bring them home for my husband and sister to try. on occasion i've gone back the next day and bought a case! because you might find that what is at GO one day might not be at GO the next!
    recently i've had a couple of late 90's california chards that were really smooth, velvety & not sharp at all; such a delight! so i'm looking forward to your recommendations and i'll head in with a plan at the GO wine days!

  8. I Like To Drink Wine From Grocery Outlet And Type Everything In Title Case.

  9. We're big fans of the Grocery Outlet (GO) at my house - great values for snack foods, cheeses, yogurt, organic brands, and, of course wine!

    I am enjoying your descriptions of the wines so far. I'm still a novice wine drinker, but I find it very cool the wide variety of flavors/smells that wine can have (tobacco, gooseberries, mint, melon, etc).

    I'm hoping you will have some good news on roses. I found a bottle of rose I loved last year at the GO for about $4-5 - perfect on a warm summer evening.

  10. You're in luck: Rosés tomorrow and Thursday.

  11. Thanks for the heads up on the hint of "playdough" for Grand Cru Russian River Valley Chardonnay.....I will steer the mother of 2 little ones...I already have my fair share of playdough experiences, don't need to drink it.


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