A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Wine Guy looks for chardonnay in Cuenca.

Chardonnay is the number one white wine and the number three best selling varietal in the U.S.  However, here in Ecuador, you won't find dozens of Chardonnays to choose from.  In fact, in some stores, you may have to head to the sparkling wine section to even find Chardonnay represented.

As a result, if you have a superbly strong yen for a Sonoma Cutrer, Cakebread Cellars, Merryvale or even a Chateau St Jean, you may have to consider booking an airline ticket to satisfy your craving or beg a friend to come for a visit bearing a bottle or two.

Even with the popularity and preponderance of Chilean and Argentinean wines available, I haven't yet discovered one of the truly nice South American Chardonnays I've enjoyed in the past: Santa Ema from Chile. (I mention it here so my Ecuadorian friends can keep an eye out for it..let me know if you see it!).

Californian Chardonnays are almost non-existent and the mere mention of Montrachet or even Pouilly-Fuisse will result in some wildly incredulous stares from an Ecuadorian wine merchant.  If you manage to find even one of the more common Californian table Chardonnays, be prepared for $30 plus pricing.

So what's the retired Expadorian on a fixed income to do when he absolutely needs a Chardonnay fix? Here's a couple options in the $10 to $15 price range:

Santa Julia Chardonnay:  this organic Argentinian producer (from Mendoza) produces a light, crisp, naked chardonnay with a hint of mango and an almost barely detectable note of banana on the nose.  It reminds me of some unoaked French chardonnays minus the minerality.  Look for this wine in Supermaxi or one of the chain stores.

Casa Vieja Chardonnay Reserva:  This Chilean producer ages his chardonnay in oak so this is the one you want if you prefer oaky chardonnays.  The oak here, however, is definately young, so be prepared for a light touch  of greenness when you first uncork this otherwise nice little wine. A lot of white wine drinkers wouldn't think of decanting.  In this case,  however, some aeration will smooth out the rough edges from the young oak used to age this wine. That should give you a chardonnay with some of the stone fruit body, character and even a slight bit of the creaminess that you might enjoy from a barrel-aged chardonnay.  You should find this wine in Coral or Superstock.

Here's hoping that these hints help in your Ecuadorian wine search.  Remember, for other wine stories from The Wine Guy, visit

When wine shopping in Ecuador, remember to avoid those shops that display their wine in the front window. Happy sipping to you here in the land south of zero!


  1. Hey Roger,

    Thanks. Chardonnay has become my favorite white wine in the last couple of years. I go through periods of favorite reds and whites. Now I will more carefully look over the shelves at SuperMaxi. Jim Mola

  2. Hi Roger, as a wine snob/sommelier myself, I figure if I can spot a too young Chardonnay, then lay it down for a few months, in a cool spot, that should work, instead of aerating it, as white wines tend to break down easily the more you mess with it. Let me know how you aerated the wine, just swirling it, or actually decanting it. Thanks! Oh, and I am most certainly bringing with me in May 3 bottles (maybe 4) of wine, just to get me through the week, lol. Tami