The slang term plonk, originally derogatory, is undergoing mass revision among wine drinkers and now refers to seriously inexpensive but eminently quaffable wine rather than to cheap bad wine. We're happy to lend our support to the word's rehabilitation and offer as a fine example nonvintage Yellow Tail Tree-Free Chardonnay from Australia, which, appropriately, is said to have originated the slang term in question.
This iteration of Yellow Tail's everyday value chard, which goes for about $6 at big box stores and soon should show up on more supermarket shelves, is part of a larger trend in the winemaking world: unoaked chardonnay, thus tree-free. It goes from steel tanks to bottles without a stopover in oak aging barrels, yielding a crisper, cleaner chard. Yellow Tail oaked chard is still out there on lots of shelves, too, so be sure the words "tree-free" appear on the label if you want to try the wine recommended here.
This lively bargain opens with pear and citrus notes on the nose and just a whiff of something resinous. On the tongue it delivers big pear and a bit of clementine, with a nice nibble of butterscotch through mid palate. The citrusy finish is refreshingly tart.
This chard would be good with grilled chicken served with a fruit salsa, or maybe with a grilled cheddar, tomato and bacon sandwich.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.