The One Wine Greg Brewer Wishes Would Get More Respect - Exclusive

Sometimes, you can pinpoint the exact cause of the rise or fall of a given product's popularity. For soaring sales of face masks and hand sanitizer, we have the COVID-19 pandemic to credit. For the dip in sales of merlot, we can look to the 2004 hit film "Sideways" in which the oenophile protagonist famously railed against the varietal, according to NPR. But when it comes to other products — and other types of wine — it's a bit harder to tell why they are or aren't all that well-liked.

And when it comes to one wine, in particular, Wine Enthusiast's 2020 Winemaker of the Year, Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton Wines, wants you to give it a second chance (via Brewer-Clifton). That wine is chardonnay, and it's a wine Brewer enjoys and believes in so strongly he even called it the one he would choose as his proverbial "desert island" wine.

"I love all wines," Brewer told Mashed during an exclusive interview, "but with chardonnay, it's crazy diverse and everything else, but there's a neutrality to it where I could see enjoying that every day." He is speaking about the wide range of flavor profiles winemakers can achieve with the chardonnay grape based on the containers in which the wine is aged (oak or steel, e.g.), the soil type and vine age, the time of grape harvest, and myriad other factors.

In short, Greg Brewer wants you to know that there's probably a lot more to chardonnay's taste than you know. And that's a good thing, if you can be a bit open-minded and give it a second chance. As it happens, winning people's affection back to this grape is a favorite activity of Brewer's.

Why Greg Brewer thinks chardonnay deserves a fresh look

"With chardonnay, there's so many misconceptions around it," says Brewer, "and it goes back to education where some people say: 'Oh, yeah, no, I hate chardonnay,' but they're like: 'But I like yours,' or whatever. And so I love just presenting an opportunity of a very, very important, great variety within an aesthetic that not everyone is as aware of. And so that would be the one I would pick [to share]."

Brewer's message for the chardonnay haters? Relax a bit and try something new. "When I'm pouring, I'll be at a tasting, I'll have the pinot or whatever, and I'll reach for the chardonnay to pour for someone, and they're like: 'Oh, I hate chardonnay,' and it's always hate. And I'm like: 'Well, first of all, tune down the language choice, hate's a really strong word for a grape, by the way. That's a pretty strong conviction for a little berry.'

"And I'll usually ask like: 'Well, what is it about chardonnay that you find so not awesome?' And then they usually reference process things, the oak, toast, whatever. And I'm like: 'Well, that's fine. But the chardonnay didn't choose that path necessarily.' If that's not what you're into, that's fine," Brewer said. "That's like saying: 'Oh, I hate lobster,' and you're like: 'Well, why don't you like lobster?' 'Well, I don't like butter and cream and all that.' And it's like: 'Well, the lobster claw didn't jump in that pot!' You know what I mean?"

And don't think all chardonnay is buttery and oaky, because it's not. What is it is, though, is worth another try. If it turns out you really don't like any variety of the wine, then fair enough, at least you'll know.

To explore the world of wine, including chardonnay, visit Brewer-Clifton's tasting room next time you're in southern California, or pick up a bottle of their award-winning wine online.