Domaine Chandon Carneros Chardonnay 2005

At first glance, this wine should be roughly the same as the Gloria Ferrer from last week. Both wines cost $14, both wines are from Los Carneros AVA, and both wines are produced by European companies that have a fair amount of history between them (at least in terms of producing sparkling wines).In the glass, everything seems to be the same as last week: this is a very bright, polished wine in the glass, if slightly more pale and less green than the Gloria Ferrer. Thankfully, there was no cork involved, so opening the bottle was a cinch… but I find I’m regretting it.The nose is basically stale movie butter popcorn with just a skosh of floor wax. There’s also just a hint of fresh green apple as well as a musty oakiness lurking around the corners; it smells just a little bit tired and more than a little bit boring.In the mouth, I can’t decide if this just tastes like flat sparkling wine (yuck) or a McDonalds-style sweetened My First Wine type product produced especially for the now-failed wine attraction at Disney’s California Adventure. It’s, well, gross: the sugars hang around in an irritating, louche manner better suited to Jean-Paul Belmondo than the bright California sun. Flavors are not overtly complex; a good jug of Odwalla organic orange juice is more interesting in terms of flavor profile. Worse yet, there’s a feckless whack of acidity that sneaks up on you at the very end of it; it all feels like you’ve just hired an inept hooker who just ran off with your wallet while you were still unlocking the hotel room door.I am not a fan. Avoid.Domaine Chandon
Price: $14
Closure: Stelvin

Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 2006

There’s nothing like a dry, brittle cork that falls apart directly into the bottle to start an afternoon’s drinking off right, is there? Thankfully, once the cork was extracted, what was left was a brilliant, overly clean-looking wine with pale tinges of green in the glass. On the nose, it comes across as decadent, rich, and full, promising ripe pear, Brazil nuts, and lots and lots of butter (hey, this is California, after all). However, what you taste isn’t what you smell, which is why this wine strikes me as a real winner given the price. It manages to come across as much more Chablis than Carneros at first, only relenting and delivering the toasty buttered goods on the finish, supported by nervy acidity that supports it all to great effect. Still, there’s enough complexity from oak and what I suspect is only partial malo that delivers a drinking experience unexpected at this price. This is pretty damn good stuff.Gloria Ferrer
Price: $14
Closure: Cork