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February 28, 2005 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Socialist Chardonnay

The term ‘Chardonnay Socialist’ has been, for far too long, a pejorative term for those who espouse socialist values and denounce those of modern western capitalism, while consuming the products they so vocally denounce. OK, so ‘Chardonnay Socialists’ are hypocrites. Well, no longer. Now is the time of postmodernity, of recontextualisation, and of reclaiming derogatory language like it’s Lampton Quay. And this column serves another purpose, or I hope it will, in that it will help you make the most of your student loan and allowance money, which if you are anything like me will probably be spent on booze anyway. I want to help you buy wine that is actually worth the money you pay for it and is not just an alternative to beer or spirits on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night; but to buy wine that is an experience, something to relish.

What better grape to start with than chardonnay, the grape that fuels the Labour Party, the unofficial center of the chardonnay socialist movement. Chardonnay (pronounced shar-don-ay?), aside from being a clichéd white trash name, is also the name of what is probably the most famous white wine grape. Chardonnay is great because it is an extremely versatile grape, though we normally drink it as a still, dry table white, which is how it is made in Burgundy, the region in northern France where chardonnay originated. Burgundy and its new world (or non-European) equivalents cover all the bases from steely Chablis (unoaked and from the Chablis region) which can be drunk strait away to big, buttery and oaky straw yellow wines made to be laid down (cellared or kept) before they are imbibed. Furthermore Chardonnay, along with Pinot Nior and Pinot Meunier is a grape from which Champagne and méthode champenoise (wine made in the Champagne style but with grapes from a region other than Champagne) can be made. Bubbly made purely of chardonnay is labelled ‘blanc de blanc’. Recently sweet wines are also being made from the chardonnay grape here in New Zealand by leaving the grapes on the vine longer in order to let it over-ripen and raise the sugar levels… But enough with the pseudo-technical bullshit, you are saying, what is good and cheap to drink?

We will start with kiwi stuff; now my personal opinion is when buying in this price range it is better to avoid the oaked stuff as it costs money to age wine properly in oak so when you are getting a cheap oaked wine cheap there is usually something the producers are not telling you. One urban legend is that big wine producers make teabags of oak chips to dunk in their stainless steal vats. So perhaps best avoided. One of my favorites is the Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2004 (although I prefer the ‘03 when it is available) from Marlborough and while this usually sells for about seventeen dollars a bottle it is often on ‘special’ for under thirteen at Wellington City New World (Chaffers). It’s a crisp and fruity wine that, like most affordable Chardonnays, is best served chilled. Another similar one is the C.J. Pask Roys Hill Chardonnay, which is around ten to fifteen dollars. These wines are best served cold (like icy!), unlike the bigger, more costly Chardonnays that do more when they are a just a little cooler than room temp. Other good producers are Astrolabe and Lancaster (when you can find it).

The best place to source cheap chardonnay (especially some of the fuller-bodied ones) is Australia. Because of the size of the producers and vineyards (they are, like, ginormous), the resulting economies of scale mean they are able to produce wine with more cost efficiency than we do here. While this sometimes just results in a bigger profit margin for the evil corporates, sometimes it is also very good for the consumer as well. A great entry-level Australian Chardonnay is the Lindemans Bin 65 which is available for about twelve dollars; Yalumba and Penfolds also make great wines in this price range as well.

The most important thing is that you try new things, and although it’s highly unlikely that you will find a North American Chardonnay for under thirty dollars there are a lot of great South American producers (usually from Chile and Argentina) that produce affordable high quality wines. Producers include Casa Lapostle, the French owned Bodega Lurton and Santa Isabella who make a great Chardonay Viongnier.

I am always keen to hear other people’s opinions and comments about wine and stuff so send me an email at <chardsoc [at]>.


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (1)

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  1. mark says:

    Dear friend.

    Compliments of the season and God’s blessings.

    I am glad to inform you that I have successfully transferred the funds under the co-operation of a new partner from Paraguay.And presently am in Paraguay for some investment projects and medical check up with my own share of the total sum. as you should understand that during the period of processing the transfer that my health situation was very poor. Meanwhile, I did not forget all your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring the funds despite that it failed us some how along the way.
    Now I will like you to contact my secretary who is right now in Cotonou Republic of Benin,

    his name is PASTOR MARK his email:(
    Telephone +229 93 14 03 05

    And ask him to send you the total sum of One Million Euro Bond cheque which I kept for you, for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in this matter as I am a very strong and born again christian and will never easily forget all your passt efforts to assist no matter that i was not able to get it conclude with you.I appreciated all your efforts at that time very much. So feel free and get in touched with my secretary PASTOR MARK and instruct him where to send the money to you.

    Please do let me know immediately you receive it so that we can share the joy after all the sufferies at that time. In the moment,I am very busy here because of the investment projects and my health which me and my new partners are having at hand. Finally, remember that I had forwarded instruction to my secretary on your behalf in respect to that matter as well, So feel free to get in touch with him in respect to that so that he will send the amount to you without any delay.

    Yours faithfully.
    Mr Williams Ude

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