Fat Bastard - An Elusive Chardonnay

I still remember when I first came across Fat Bastard at a local shop, maybe in 1998 or so. This French wine has a distinctive name and a hippo on the label. The story told, both in the literature and by the wine shop owner, was that a local zoo near the winery had a friendly hippo nicknamed "Fat Bastard", and this wine was a homage to it. I swear it was on the label too, but my memory is fuzzy here, and unfortunately I don't have a bottle of that vintage around.

The very next day I ran into a wine importer and talked to him about this wine. "No, no" he said. According to him, the hippo story (and picture on the label) was all part of a ruse to get the crochety BATF to let the name go through our US system. The actual reason the wine got its name, again according to him, was that a friend of the winemaker had come by to taste the new Chardonnay. The friend took a sip and proclaimed, "This is a fat bastard of a wine!", meaning it was full bodied and flavorful. It was this comment that got the wine its title.

When I was at the DC Wine Expo last week, conversation with some of the exhibitors in the French area rolled around to the names used, and how they confuse people. We got onto the topic of Fat Bastard, and the French said that this was never because of a hippo or because of a comment made by a visitor. Originally Fat Bastard was a play on the name Batard-Montrachet, which is a Grand Cru from Burgundy's Cote d'Or. Batard-Montrachet is 12 hectares on the border of Puligny and Chassagne, where world class Chardonnay is grown.

Fat Bastard Label Intrigued, I came back home and looked at a bottle I'd purchased recently. Sure enough, there was no 'hippo' story. Instead, the label talked about how this was named after a "British expression describing a particularly full and rich wine." The Fat Bastard Website gives this same story. An email to the importers got the response that it was Thierry who said the infamous line, and therefore coined the name.

What's amusing is that a friend of mine lives in the UK, and on HIS labels the expression is said to be an Australian one! I'm now in search of a winedrinker in Australia, to find out what the wine labels there say!

Whatever its history, the wine itself is indeed full bodied, lightly fruity, and quite a reasonable buy at $10/bottle. Note that these winemakers also now make Utter Bastard, a red made with Syrah grapes.

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