2008 Crane Lake Down Under Chardonnay

Price: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Crane Lake

What They Said:

2008 Down Under ChardonnayPer Wall Street Journal “One other wine stood out. In our notes we wrote: “Crisp, with crackling acidity and good, lemony fruit. Quite fruity, especially on the finish, with a summery mix of fruits like grapefruit and pineapple. Lovely, fresh wine.” When we took the bag off, this was a new wine to us: Down Under by Crane Lake, from the 2008 vintage. When we checked our notes, we were surprised and pleased to see that we had paid just $5.03. As we looked further into this wine, we were even more surprised: It is a wine imported in bulk and bottled in the U.S. The producer: Bronco Wine Co., the very same people who brought you Two-Buck Chuck. This did indeed turn out to be, in effect, Down Under Chuck, the liquid affirmation of one of our theses.”

What I Think:

Have you met Two Buck Chuck’s big sister Three Dollar Koala? Perhaps the first ever Bronco Wine Co. international offering, this one makes its way to your local shelves via an unordinary journey. It arrives from Australia where the grape market is experiencing a serious grape glut which is being widely reported. Some see disaster, others see opportunity. So Fred and his friends have descended, bought some quality product and had it shipped back stateside. That is where it gets interesting. You see 99.99% of wine that arrives on the shores of the United States does so in a bottle. This one however arrives in the equivalent of an oil tanker. Once on shore they “blend, finish and bottle” it before sending it on to Trader Joe’s while preaching to the press that you have been paying too much for Australian wine (read Yellow Tail). And for the record, in Fred’s words, the Bronco Wines aren’t cheap they are “right-priced”.

Now let’s get to the wine. Soft, white fruit that hardly shows on the nose. Nectarine and apples appear on the early palate with a vanilla, oak component appearing mid stream. The finish has a very nice fruit crispness that doesn’t show a hint of acid. To the aforementioned oak, it isn’t overpowering but is certainly noticeable in a subtle way. For someone with oak defenses on high alert this is just enough to trigger the alarm. Given that, I won’t be picking another bottle of this up as I prefer a different Bronco offering, the Blue Fin . That said, if you like a little bit (or a lot) of oak this one is worth a try. After trying it, if you like it, grab a case or two. This is the first batch and you can be certain they have bought the best of the best of the affordable and available grapes. Come batch two, the lowest common denominator might be a couple floors away. For those that remember the original vintage of Two Buck Chuck we know how this saga plays out. Enjoy it while you can…

Rating: 12th Bottle

If you’re interested in another take on this one check out what Jeff had to say about this one on Viva la Wino!