Appetizers
June 5, 2008
Chardonnay Over the Top, Or Is It?

I know alcohol levels in table wines have been rising, but a chardonnay with 18 percent alcohol? Sure enough, that's what the label said on a bottle of chardonnay we tasted a few days ago. The wine was big, all right, with a brassy yellow color, ripe fruit, fat body and a touch of sweetness, but it didn't taste all that warm.

Did it really contain 18 percent alcohol? Nope, says Hank Battjes, owner of Gold Hill Vineyard at Coloma in El Dorado County. His chardonnays are actually closer to 13 and 13.5 percent alcohol, says Battjes. So why the discrepancy? It was a printing error, says Battjes, who let the matter ride because of the cost in time and money to reprint the labels.

The error is on both Gold Hill's 2007 El Dorado Chardonnay and the 2006 Reserve Chardonnay.

"I've given up on that label outfit," says Battjes.

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