‘Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. ‘I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.
‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.
‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
To avoid the type of awkward situation described above, might I suggest picking up a bottle of The Wonderland Project’s White Queen Chardonnay?
I discovered White Queen Chardonnay while googling “alice in wonderland wine” because if it hasn’t been clearly established already, I am a crazy person. And sometimes a a vast collection of Alice in Wonderland t-shirts, jewelry, books and figurines simply isn’t enough.
White Queen Chardonnay and The Wonderland Project are the brainchild (brainchildren?) of Matt Ahern. He is a former sommelier and current wine distributor. Dude knows wine. Whether dude knows Lewis Carroll or not, we will discuss in a moment. Ahern wanted to make a high quality wine with high quality grapes at a reasonable price. He definitely succeeded. I picked up a 2013 bottle at a local wine shop for $21 and while I prefer my everyday drinkers to be a few dollars less, you get a lot of bang for your buck with White Queen Chardonnay.
The Wonderland Project’s tasting notes describe “unctuous notes of honey, spiced peach, nougat, marzipan, burnt sugar and lemon cream.” I didn’t get all that, but I did experience the honey and peach notes, and maybe a little marzipan. The weight of the wine is what makes it a real treat. It’s nice and full without making you feel like you need to drink it with a fork, unlike some other huge and oaky California Chardonnays. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, then aged for seven months in 1/3 new French Oak, 1/3 neutral French Oak and 1/3 stainless steel. This proves to be a winning combination in both mouthfeel and finish.
Now that we’ve discussed what’s inside the bottle, let’s address the elephant-sized bandersnatch in the room, shall we? You know, how the woman on the White Queen Chardonnay wine label is not the White Queen!!! The John Tenniel illustration used on the label is absolutely, 100% the Red Queen. As I’m sure any Carrollian who clicked on this article has been screaming aloud for the last five minutes. I have to think this act of regal duplicity was a conscious decision and not a matter of ignorance. If you’ll recall, both the Red Queen and the White Queen appear in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. The Red Queen, in Lewis Carroll’s own words*, “must be cold and calm; she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the tenth degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!” In short, she’s one tough cookie. The White Queen, on the other hand, is “…gentle, stupid, fat and pale; helpless as an infant; and with a slow, maundering, bewildered air about her just suggesting imbecility, but never quite passing into it.” Plus, she’s got that weird habit of periodically turning into a sheep.
One can understand how one might not want to picture a borderline imbecile on one’s wine. So, if you christen your company the Wonderland Project and have a hankering to name your wine after a Carroll queen and the wine is white, I see your conundrum. I probably would have named the wine White Rabbit Chardonnay to avoid the whole issue. And then put a picture of the March Hare on the label. I KID.
I guess in this modern world of Kardashians and Candy Crush, it’s too much to expect literary integrity in one’s wine. And no, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence, either. If you need me, I’ll be in a darkened room with no electric light, pompously lamenting contemporary society, writing with a quill pen and possibly contracting small pox. While enjoying another glass of White Queen Chardonnay, of course.
* from an article by Lewis Carroll titled “Alice on the Stage” April 1887
Addendum 9/16/15: I was able to confirm…. using the wrong queen on the label was indeed a conscious decision! When asked, winemaker Matt Ahern explained to me, “Yeah, I choose the image of the red queen consciously. Basically because I liked the image better. I liked the way it made me feel as opposed the way you feel when you see the actual white queen image. Thanks for picking up on that. In 5 years of producing this label I’ve only had one person realize the contradiction. Wine world :)”