Margo’s Wino Night: The Little Penguin Chardonnay


Courtesy of…me.

Oh yes, I like wine, too. It’s the only way I can have grapes, is when the sugars have been tamed a bit by fermentation. The yeast is supposed to be bad for me, but it has never caused me problems. I guess it’s the fact that this blessed elixir killed the yeast has something to do with that.

Special note to my dietitian: Look away.

One thing to note about me and my wine tastes is this: I drink wine to enjoy it.  For me, enjoyment has little to do with getting drunk. I’d pick vodka if that were the case. It has to do with flavor, people!  I do not drink wine to impress my friends about how sophisticated my palate is.  I don’t care who made it, where it was made, or how fancy and special the terroir is.

Ok, I kinda do care about the people who make wine. And learning about where it grows is a fascinating topic, that I only indulge in– in private. You’ll thank me later.

I actually stayed the night at a vineyard once, during a snow storm. They weren’t really set up for guests, but the weather basically decided them. They had a restaurant we’d stopped at on a touristy round of Grand Traverse Bay. On the way there, the snow hadn’t seemed like a big deal. But, the snow just kept coming down while we ate, and we were the only people there. In the end, they graciously offered us  a place to sleep in an unused guest bedroom.  Nobody on staff went home that night, the roads were thoroughly snowed/iced in.

The next morning we followed the snow plow truck back to Traverse City. The hotel we’d meant to stay at was a little freaked, but relieved we were OK. We came home with a bit extra wine.  None of it was opened until we reached our destination.

It was awesome. I was pleased to discover that they make awesome wine, too.

So, hat tip to Old Mission Winery near Traverse City, Michigan. They were inexpensive, back then. Now I can’t afford to drink them, unless Santa is generous with me this year. I won’t be able to make a *real* review. Though their Special White Reserve (don’t remember the grape, guys, sorry!) from back in 2002 was pretty spectacular. Delicious. Smooth, not too sweet, not too acid, a subtle bit of oak I could tolerate, and a complex flavor that was many kinds of happy. It had a fragrant cedar, with pear and spice that was perfectly balanced.  But it was over ten years ago, so let’s get back to a wine I’ve had recently.


Ah, Chardonnay. That stereotype of the wine world. I really wanted to like this wine. I can’t speak for the vintner, except to say that I like their style, the label really made me want to love the wine. I’ve got a soft spot for penguins, partially because of my software partisanship.


Then there’s the fact that it’s a  yellow I don’t have to wear.

The cork smelled wonderful. The fruit was orange-y, some jasmine tea, and the green was a fresh zesty petitgrain instead of the sour/bitter kumquat.  I really wish it had tasted like the bouquet.

Also, to be fair to them, it is hard for me to find a Chardonnay I like.  And, if you like Chardonnay, there is nothing to complain about. It tastes exactly like every Chardonnay you have ever tasted. To quote my husband, “It’s everything a wine shouldn’t be.”

He is, perhaps, being excessively harsh, but it has that chemical/metallic taste I don’t like. It also has this flat acidic tang that is kind of like raw vinegar. The fruit was kind of citrusy– like citron, but there was this… kumquat favor that clashed a bit with the lemony flavor.   There was very little complexity. Just like every Chardonnay I have ever tasted. At least it doesn’t come in a box, I say.

But I brought  more than half of the bottle home from the party I took it to. So it’s not just me. Though I will say it made a fine addition to my turkey stock, so it’s not like I poured it down the drain. It cooks very well with leeks and mushrooms. Indeed, I think cooking with it improved it.  So it can’t be all bad if you can cook with it well.

I promise I will give this vintner another try with a verital that I’m a more fond of. When I bought it, I was only thinking about penguins and not really about wine at all. Oh, and that it was white, not red. Reds and I have some problems with head aches, but I will brave them occasionally anyway. Somebody check to make sure my dietitian is still covering her eyes!

While I will probably continue slumming on the bottom shelf (this wine was on sale), I will endeavor to keep people apprised of wines that are tasty– yummy. There will be special emphasis on interesting flavors that I will try to describe with as little snobbery as I can manage. But we all know I am writing a blog, so let’s see how long that lasts. 😉


One thought on “Margo’s Wino Night: The Little Penguin Chardonnay

  1. “Everything a wine shouldn’t be” pretty much covers it.

    Seriously, folks…this stuff may have helped deglaze a pan full of roasted leftover parts from a turkey which subsequently became a truly kick-ass stock, but drinking it straight tasted more like isopropanol than it did something you’d actually want to swallow.

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