Why I Get Paid The BIG BUCKS!

Here is the challenge:

Describe what Chardonnay tastes like in 50 words.

This was my charge earlier today as I was in the middle of working on a project that demanded I describe the characteristics of a number of different grape varieties. I sat back, staring at the blank white computer screen holding the letters C-H-A-R-D-O-N-N-A-Y, followed by a colon. I was stumped.

Now, I’ve drunk a number of wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Given a particular chardonnay I could describe it in great detail and probably with a bit of flourish to the prose. But describe Chardonnay, in general?

Which do I describe? The high acid, citrusy, minerally Chards made in Chablis? The more lush, but still acid based green apple, melon and vanilla chards of Burgundy’s villages? What about the over the top, alcoholic fruit bombs laden with oak that often come from California. Then there are the unoaked, tropical fruit and lemony chards that can be made anywhere. What is chardonnay? And in just 50 words, please.
Well, here’s why I get paid the big bucks:

"Known for the great wines it produces in Burgundy and Chablis, Chardonnay in California is a chameleon. Its tropical, citrus, fresh fruit and floral aromas can all take center stage. Depending on the winemaker’s aim and the terroir at their disposal, Chardonnay can be opulent and rich or crisp and refreshingly lean."

If you are going to be good at wine PR, you’ve got to learn to pass the buck, cop out AND give the facts…all at the same time. Chardonnay is so diverse that depending on who makes the wine it is nearly impossible to describe beyond it being white.

Notice how I describe varietal by citing not the character, but where it’s made. Notice how I blame the winemaker for my frustration (inabilities?). Notice how I display the palate of paints rather than the painting.
I think I finally did fabulous work here by choosing not to do the work at all. Yet, it could be argued that this is the only intellectually honest way to describe Chardonnay. And that’s exactly how I think I’ll argue it.

(By the way, if you think you are up to it…give the challenge a whirl and post it here in a comment)


One Response

  1. Gabriella Opaz - July 4, 2006

    The Tempranillo grape is both native and widely produced in Spain but can be found in smaller quantities worldwide. Although called by several different names, Tempranillo literally translated means “to ripen early”, which has aided winemakers in producing fruit-forward high quality red wines.

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