The pick: Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, 2017, a guilty pleasure wine if there ever was one.
Backstory: Chardonnay is a victim of its own success. It became so popular in the 1980s and 1990s that it even inspired a backlash known as ABC—Anything but Chardonnay. Some ABCers objected to the dominance of Chardonnay in that it was literally squeezing out other varietals, since growers had to plant acres and acres to keep up with demand. Others, though, came to resent a particularly popular version of the wine, namely, the heavily-oaked Chardonnay that was especially common in California. The oak-ageing, some argued, disguised the virtues of the grape and, since it was less acidic than a more “naked grape” and didn’t pair well with a lot of food. Oaked Chardonnay-lovers responded by continuing to buy it, especially Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve, which remains one of the top-selling Chardonnays in North America.
Why you’ll like it: If you like rich and indulgent whites with a full body and a lot of vanilla, this one’s for you. The 2017 Vintner’s Reserve is rich, smooth, full of cantaloupe and vanilla notes—all in perfect harmony with the buttery character that the oak-ageing brings out. Not everyone appreciates that buttery aspect of oaked wine, which is good news to the legions of loyal fans who don’t particularly want to share their special treat. Pair it with ceviche, sashimi or a short story collection.
Since it’s so popular, Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay is pretty easy to find across Canada. Generally speaking, it retails for under $20 and, in fact, at the time of this writing, it was on sale at the LCBO—for $17.95 (down from the regular $19.95).