The Cotillion Chardonnay 2014 is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive (Cotillion also make a Pinot Noir) sourced from grapes grown in 63% Sonoma County, 20% Napa County, and 17% Monterey County, all 3 are terrific places to grow Chardonnay grapes. As a Trader Joe’s private brand wine there is little information about how the wine was produced or who actually produced it for that matter., But for $7.99, you don’t ask too many questions. The grapes are grown in prime growing regions, the back label mentions vanilla as a flavor, so that means this Chard saw some kind of oak seasoning and that is about all we know. So, the real reason I bought this wine (other than seeing where the vineyards were) is the label. The label is a Victorian inspired drawing of animals dancing at a costume party and each animal is wearing a full head mask of a different animal. And here is my theory for choosing a wine, that sort of works, especially at this price-point. If the wine producer put a great deal of effort into creating an interesting label, there is a very good chance they went to some effort to create an interesting wine. Boring label = boring wine, fun label=fun wine, and so on. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it is surprising how often the two go hand in hand. This theory does not work well with more expensive wine since some of the best producers have been in business a long time and they want the label to convey their heritage. The alcohol content is a very accurate 13.75%.
The color is a clean, clear wheat yellow. The nose is pretty, peach, pear, apple, lemon, a hint of vanilla, a touch of spice and a slight floral edge. This is a fruit-forward, but very balanced Chardonnay. It tastes of melon, lime, a little butter (not too much), and tart apple. The mid-palate adds some cream, pear and a late hit of grapefruit. There is enough acidity to make the Cotillion a food wine and it is balanced enough to make this a good sipping wine. (some White wines that are made to be paired with the meal are a bit too acidic, remember the acidity cleanses the palate and balances the wine with the food, to be enjoyable as a sipping wine) The finish mirrors the body of the wine and slowly fades away.
The Cotillion Chardonnay 2014 is a pretty good all around Chardonnay. It has enough body to work as a winter White wine, put a chill on it and it well be a nice summer cooler, pair it with a variety of foods, roasted chicken, Thai shrimp or a pork burrito, or just drink it while watching the Super Bowl. See, buying a wine because of the label does work.