Last year I enjoyed a bottle of Red Bicyclette Merlot and on a recent trip to the wine store I saw a bottle of Red Bicyclette Chardonnay on the shelf for $8.99 and on a whim bought a bottle.
The Red Bicyclette brand is owned Gallo and they appear to be making market penetration selling jug wines wines from the South of France. These vin ordinare are dolled up in with a nice label and sold as a low-priced entry into French wine.
Slightly confusing, the Gallo brand masters have changed their familiar Frenchman on a bicycle on a yellow background for a simpler, less evocative, bicycle against a tan background. Who am I to argue with Gallo, but the older label seemed a better branding choice.
My impression: Lively vanilla and oak nose. Tart initially and tannic on the finish - tastes which I do not associate with Chardonnays. No fruit at all. Very difficult to drink with more than half of the bottle going down the drain. I suspect that I had a stale bottle which would explain the lack of fruit. My limited experience with oxidized wines is that they are very thin on the nose, so maybe I am off on the cause. The cork looked to be intact and the wine was a lovely straw color - as it should have been. All-in-all a very flawed wine. I will buy a second bottle from another retailer and see if I get the same results.
It wasn't that long ago that I opined that there has never been more high-quality wine hitting the market and that it was challenging for the consumer to find a bad wine. Well, I have hit two clunkers in a row. I hope to do better next time.
November 27th Update: Purchased another bottle this past week from a different retailer and opened it Thanksgiving Day. It displayed the same overwhelming tartness and lack of fruit which I experienced with my first bottle. It is a deeply flawed wine and not worth drinking at any price.