Echo Falls Chardonnay review: I recount the first (and last) time I tried this popular, cut-priced white. It’s one of the worst wines I’ve tasted. But that’s not the only reason to avoid cheap wine brands.
Just to warn you in advance, this is more of a rant than a review. But before the abuse begins, I’d like to reaffirm my anti-elitist wine stance and by saying that everyone should be allowed to drink whatever they like, free from mockery or prejudice. I, however, will not be drinking Echo Falls Chardonnay again.
Now, I love Chardonnay, but the cheap stuff can be oh so bad. And the fact that you can pick up an Echo Falls Chardonnay for £3.99 at the discount drug store Savers is a clear warning sign. As is the fact that Echo Falls (owned by Accolade, the same Australian mega-brand who make Banrock Station and Hardy’s wines) also produce Peach & Mango and Raspberry & Cassis flavoured wine. I just did a little vomit in my mouth.
The Problem With Cheap Wine Brands
Putting taste aside for the moment, the aspect that concerns me most about very cheap wine brands is this. When you consider how much of the price tag goes on VAT, excise duty, retailer’s profit, winery labour, packaging, transport costs, advertising etc, the amount spent on actually producing the wine must be miniscule. According to the below infographic, the actual value of the ingredients in a £5 bottle of wine is 37 pence. Some other infographics I’ve seen suggest the number is far lower.
Of course, not everybody is willing or able to spend more than a few quid on wine. For many, alcohol is just a means to an end, and that’s fine. But as you can see below, an exponentially greater percentage of cash goes into the wine costs the more you pay (this only applies up to a point, of course, before you start to get diminishing returns).
Infographic courtesy of Bibendum-wine.co.uk
In a bid to make your wine as cheap as possible, Echo Falls must have skimped on copywriting costs too, judging by their description of this Chardonnay on their website. “It’s so famous there are children named after it!” and “Life’s great when things just happen!” read the adjacent taglines. Classy. Right down to the superfluous exclamation marks. Who needs to hire a professional when the office junior can just do it for nothing.
The only time I’ve tried this stuff was at the summer party thrown by the publishing company that produces the magazine I write for. It was a generous affair: more like a mini festival than a party, with live bands and free food. Generous, that is, in all aspects bar the wine.
I generally try to see the positives in a wine, but this Echo Falls Chardonnay was undrinkable. It tasted like fruit cordial mixed with vodka and water. Extremely sugary and cloying, it bore no resemblance any wine I’d ever tried. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was closer to an alcopop than a Burgundy.
It was like type two diabetes in a glass. I felt so sorry for the grass I spat it onto, that I actually apologised to it — as soon as I was able to speak again.
Ok, so this might not be literally the world’s worst wine (I once tried a Chinese “wine” that smelled of cow manure). And I wouldn’t expect any employer to splash out on world class Californian Chardonnay in bulk at a party, but guys… you could have done better than this.
Which brings me on to the biggest mystery here: that you can actually get some very decent wine for under £6 if you look hard enough. You won’t even have to cross the English Channel to get it. I’ve reviewed a couple on this site. Click the following link to find out which is my best-value supermarket white wine.
1 NINJA STAR
Echo Falls Chardonnay is available at most supermarkets in the UK, including Tesco, usually priced around £5.