Open Mike: Chardonnay

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Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby RichardAtkinson » Wed Aug 01, 2007 3:34 pm

I have to admit. We drink very little Chardonnay or Chard blends. Sauvignon Blanc is still the King of White wines in our house.

Still…years past, we drank quite a bit of Chardonnay. Palates and styles evolve and change over time. So what is going on with chardonnay and chard blends these days? Are there any lightly oaked or even nicely balanced wines w/ good acidity out there nowadays?

We had considered discussing this in the Wine Focus, but it was generally thought that the subject was far too broad for that area and would be better handled in an Open Mike.

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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:01 pm

Good thread Richard. I am having a "sort out butterfly sample day" (have to get these to the U of A) but thoughts can wander and I anticipate some great discussions here. Wide ranging area naturally, think a nicely oaked (Calif) version might be a good start but guess those "get-to-Macon" types will be here soon! Would Markham, Sterling or Four Vines be a good start?
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby JC (NC) » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:33 pm

I have a Markham on hand. Purchased after liking a Markham Chard at a wine dinner in February. I felt the oak treatment was subtle and reasonable. I could open it next week (want to finish a Tavel rose' and open a Finger Lakes white wine first).
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Mark Lipton » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:56 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Good thread Richard. I am having a "sort out butterfly sample day" (have to get these to the U of A) but thoughts can wander and I anticipate some great discussions here. Wide ranging area naturally, think a nicely oaked (Calif) version might be a good start but guess those "get-to-Macon" types will be here soon! Would Markham, Sterling or Four Vines be a good start?


Well, Dale did just post a note on an '05 Macon-Village. I'll add my own note about an '05 Maconnais (of a sort):

2005 Joseph Drouhin St. Véran
nose: minerals, pineapple, a hint of oak
palate: medium body, crisp, pineapple, good acidity

I bought this to see what a good producer like Drouhin could do in a good year like '05 in a region like St. Véran. This is Chardonnay from a region that straddles the Maconnais and Beaujolais, and as such is a cheap and potentially good white Burgundy. In this case, I was quite pleased. It had some of the character I look for in Chablis, without the lemony fruit that I usually find there. It was a bit rounder than Chablis but that might reflect year as much as region. Very nice for $13 and a decent match to my thrown-together linguine with white clam sauce for the final dinner of our vacation in Michigan.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby JC (NC) » Wed Aug 01, 2007 6:09 pm

Good price too. I consider some St. Veran wines to be good value but usually don't find them under $15.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby wrcstl » Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:22 pm

Good theme. Assume it does not have to be domestic. Just inventoried the cellar this weekend and found an '01 Bourgogne white that will be opened with scallops tonight. Will try to come up with something worth posting.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Howie Hart » Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:53 pm

I like Chardonnay. I always have and have not gotten away from it as others may have during the ABC heyday. As a grape, it rivals Riesling in the variety of styles in can made into. Oak vs no-oak. Malo-lactic vs no M-L. Soft and creamy to cleansing acidity. Not to mention Champagne! However, these variations in Chardonnay are more due to intervention of the winemaker whereas with Riesling, vineyard practices and conditions are the predominant cause of variations and styles. As a rule I don't care for heavily oaked or high acid styles (except in bubblies).
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby wrcstl » Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:02 am

WTN: '01 Bourgongne Blanc, Giradin

Deep gold color. Full bodied, lots of mineral on the palate, complex and more than your mama's chardonnay. Slightly tired acid on the finish that tells me this wine is nearing the end of its life, as you would expect, and in another year it may begin to fall apart. Six months ago this wine was slightly brighter. My wife and I enjoyed the wine with sauteed scallops and for $13 I bought all that the wine store had two years ago and this was the last bottle.

From the pulpit: We do not drink domestic chard even though I am sure there are many good ones being made. We drink village Chablis and Bourgone as everyday whites, all in the $12-18 range, with little or no oak and IMHO this price point surpasses other Chard options. '04 and '05 Chablis is great and if you can find '05 Chablis, Savary, buy it by the case. Even my mom likes it.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Aug 02, 2007 9:35 pm

I am going to go with something tad more recent, the `04 Chablis Les Deux Rives, Olivier Leflaive.

My local winestore hang out is still recovering from this recent buy..."Ha Ha, when was the last time you brought a bottle of Chardonnay". "This is Chardonnay?- cool". As I left most of the staff scratching their heads!!!! LOL.

edit...as an afterthought, I wonder how many chard drinkers who like new world wines would recognise Chablis as a chard varietal?!! If one is only drinking Calif, a Chablis would come as a bit of a shock!
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:01 am

Bump up!
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Kim Crawford Chardonnay and a Leflaive Chablis.

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:35 pm

I am not trying to compare these two chardonnays although reader is free to draw comparisions! The Leflaive was tasted at dinner last night over a 2 hour period, whilst the Crawford was tasted in a busy winebar environment. Both of course quite distinct but have to say right away the Leflaive was one of the best whites from France that I have tasted in a long time...and I am fond of French whites!! Why is it I have not drunk more Chablis? Dale`s recent notes got me just a tad interested this week!

WTN: `05 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay, South Island NZ.

Color is a pale yellow with green tinges, on par I guess? The nose has the typical pineapple, apple, honeydew and dried apricots. On the palate, medium intensity, good acidity with melon, apple, pear. Nice smooth finish with more tropical fruits as it warms, also butterscotch! Fair mid-palate, easy drinking style and similar to the Evans and Tate from Australia.
My associate was sampling the Villa Maria and thought I may have a better wine. I did not taste his!

WTN: `04 Olivier Leflaive Les Deux Rives, Chablis Fr.

I am neither a big Chardonnay fan and certainly not a very knowledgable Chablis devotee, but this wine drew rave thoughts last night. The minerally aspect of this white was mind-blowing and the acidity was termendous.

12.5% alc, synthetic cork, grapes selected by hand (no machines here folks). Great Burgundy negociant and $27 Cdn.

Color. Medium straw, no green. Lovely, lively.

Nose. Lime, apple, flint/stones w. trace of nuts. The acidity blows out at you! "Sea shells" was a comment around the table, true. I just loved that minerally element, this is good stuff!

Palate. Initial mouthfeel entry thoughts were minerally, great balance, terrific acidity. Medium bodied with very appealing texture, apple, lemon, no oak. Some tropical fruits as it opens but oh the minerally acidity and I quite appreciate the dusty chalky finish! If you only know new world, this will be a big surprise! Sure, it`s not all that subtle and this is Chablis folks. One has to wonder about those big grand crus after tasting this one! No more terroir arguements from me, thats for sure.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Tim York » Sat Aug 04, 2007 4:55 pm

FLEUR DE MARNE « EN BILLAT » 2002 – AOC Côtes de Jura – LABET Vigneron à Rotalier (100% Chardonnay from vines (“ancienne sélection massale”) more than 50 years old.)

C : Medium depth, transparent and brilliant yellow. N: Floral fragrance with white fruit note and slight hints of a buttery and vanilla burnish. P: Deep and intense with a zesty and savoury depth, good acidity, well filled and broad on mid palate leading to a long tangy, salty and mineral finish with almost imperceptible wood notes. Very fine.

There is a slight mismatch between the nose and palate; blind, I might identify the former is as coming from “chardonnay” but not the latter. It is original and very different from the nearby wines from the Côte d’Or and Chablis, and is much closer to wines from that even more zestful and tangy Jurassic grape, Savagnin, which in this region are often quite reminiscent of dry sherry and sometimes, like sherry, develop “flor”. (Wines from Savagnin in Switzerland, under the name Païen or Heida, are quite different and much more ingratiating.) Truly, the Jura region makes some of the most terroir marked wines I know.

According to the UK importer the soils at the “En Billat” site are “Jurassic marls and limestones with ammonites often weathered out on the surface”. I can find no information about the “élevage” but, from the bouquet, I guess that this wine saw some new wood, perhaps 25%. Labet produces wines from Chardonnay and Savagnin at several other sites. I tasted a few last autumn in Labet’s presence and they all show quite marked terroir differentiation. This one was perhaps the least unconventional.

In my view, wines with individual character like this vindicate the French AOC terroir based labelling system. In particular, it would quite misleading to market them as “Chardonnay” because they bear very little resemblance to the oceans of buttery and woody off-dry liquid associated with this name all round the world.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:16 pm

Tim, thats what I call a good post! Especially as it is very educational.
That`s what I like about Open Mike, one is never sure whats coming up next.
Thanks for the insight. Funny eh, no reports on any Calif chard yet?! How about the Catena (Chile) which gets lots of good press?
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Howie Hart » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:26 am

2004 Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Purchased at the winery while meeting up with PaulB in the spring of '06. All Flat Rock Cellars wines are bottles under screwcap. Served with a shrimp and rice dish. Medium straw color. A bit closed on the nose at first, but developed nicely as it warmed in the glass. I believe one of the problems many have with Chardonnay is they serve it too cold, making it taste excessively acidic and mutes the nose. IMHO Chardonnay is the most "Red" of white wines. This wine confirms my feelings. No tropical fruit here - green apple, mouth-watering acidity and a tannic aspect to the very long finish, which would be from the oak barrel aging. This wine is very nice, but not the best match for my rice and shrimp dinner (Riesling would have worked better). This would work better with grilled chicken or pork.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Aug 05, 2007 10:24 am

Great, a report on a Canadian Chardonnay!! Mission Hill Reserve is all we hear about, thanks for this Howie! Reminding us all which temp to serve is a good idea.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Carl Eppig » Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:11 pm

We look to the Maconnais as our primary source of Chardonnay. There are dozens of offerings up to and including the St Verans. As Mark mentioned you can encounter oak at that level. Mostly it is unobtrusive. Once you get to Pouilly-Fuisse the oak is more pronounced.

For Californians we like to keep Toad Hollow on board because it is maled but unoaked, and don't know of another like that. It is great with rich dishes that call for a white. Four Vines Naked Chardonnay is another nice Chard value.

We are disappointed with the decline of readily available and niece oak free Chards from Down Under. Understand there is a feeling there that the demand for these is down. Too bad. Comments?
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Tim York » Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:41 pm

Re: The Mâconnais

I agree that the Mâconnais (and the Chalonnais likewise) is an excellent source of good QPR white burgundy. Good growers from appellations like Viré-Clessé, Mâcon Lugny and so on make deliciously mineral and fresh wines which may not have the sophistication of those from the Côte d'Or and some Pouilly-Fuissé but which are honestly enjoyable food wines. However some growers even at this level do use wood but with discretion (at least those whose wines I buy).

Turning to unwooded Chardonnay from Down-Under, I have found those which have come my way worthy but underwhelming and ultimately a bit boring. They lacked the zest and minerality which distinguish good Mâconnais, for example, and IMHO needed discreet contact with wood to add complexity.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:46 am

After the excellent Leflaive Chablis, I thought I would look around my local fave winestore to see which wine might catch my eye. The Four Vines was out of stock and I wondered about the Fleur du Cap from SA but worried about too much oak (likewise the St. Francis). I ended up in the Chile section and after debating Catena went with Miquel Torres.

WTN: `04 Miquel Torres Maquehua Chardonnay, Central Valley Chile.

The website bottle image has the word Cordillera in big letters but this Canadian bottling lacks this distinction. 13.5% alc, synthetic cork, $19 Cdn.

The colour is a medium yellow, no hints of gold. On the nose I found the regular melon, peach, floral and toasty nuances. Nothing distinct this time around.
Definately more delicate than the Chablis, tad new world style here. Initial mouthfeel entry thoughts were rich,off-dry, vanilla and butterscotch on the finish. I really struggled to find something out of the ordinary here and even the guava and fig as it warmed, did not persuade me this wine was something special. Vanilla on the 2nd day but quite restrained. Would not buy again, there has to be a better wine out there from Chile.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:31 am

OK Chardonnay is a little bit like Pinoit Noir to me-I often dislike the basic flavor profile that many New World producers seem to provide.

However, I had a simple, but very pleasant summer quaffer today. 2005 Raymond Burr (yes, that Raymond Burr) made by the folks at Deux Amis in Sonoma County. Light straw color. Definitely some creaminess-forgot to ask or look up if it goes through Malo or new oak, but it's not overpowering. Very creamy and smooth-just a hint of citrus. Almost some yeastiness which I enjoyed. I might buy this, although I bought the Petit Sirah (smooth blueberry, blackberry, and fuizzy tannins!) instead today.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby JC (NC) » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:15 am

Bob Parsons found some flint/stone in his Chablis. The flintiness is what distinguishes Chablis for me and I have been disappointed that the last two or three Chablis I've sampled have lacked that flintiness (overripe grapes perhaps?)

2006 PREJEAN CHARDONNAY, ESTATE GROWN AND BOTTLED, FINGER LAKES, NY

Purchased in June while in the Finger Lakes area.

From the website:

OUR WINES
We make two distinct styles of Chardonnay, our reserve, a more full-bodied, barrel fermented wine and our fruitier, lighter, unoaked chardonnay.

Reserve Chardonnay
› 100% Estate Grown
› Whole cluster presssed
› 100% Malolactic fermentation
Our Reserve Chardonnay is barrel fermented in both French and American oak and aged on the lees. Full-bodied, with aromas of pear fig and apple.


Chardonnay
› 100% Estate Grown
› Whole cluster presssed
› 100% Malolactic fermentation
› 100% Stainless Steel Fermented
‘No Oak’ Chardonnays are all the rage these days but we’ve making one since 1988. It’s nice to see the world catch up. This wine has bright green apple aromas and pear flavors with crisp acidity.

MY NOTES:

I purchased the regular "no oak" Chardonnay which I liked at the winery tasting. It can be found for under $10 while the reserve can be found for under $12.

Synthetic cork. 12.5% alcohol by volume
Pale straw color.
Appleskins on the nose which carry over to the flavor with a moderate tartness. Hint of delicate spice. Very pleasant and easy drinking unoaked Chardonnay. Could pair with many fish or white meat dishes. Can be sipped chilled or at low room temperature (around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Good QPR. I would buy again if the opportunity presented.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:21 am

Great note on the Finger Lakes there JC. We hear so much about this region, thanks for the post ......and the rally call for Chablis! I just have to try that one again altho there is an entry-level Fevre on the shelf here.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Carl Eppig » Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:54 pm

Flinty, steely, Chablily! Some like it, some don't.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Carl Eppig » Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:57 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Great note on the Finger Lakes there JC. We hear so much about this region.


Bob another FL Chardonnay you may certainly enjoy is:

Knapp, Finger Lakes, Chardonnay. Alcohol level: 12%. Medium bodied giving light citrus and apple on the nose and upfront. Lean and almost Chablis like, totally oak free, and pleasant as it crosses the palate. It finishes very nicely.

We pick some up every time we get over there.
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Re: Open Mike: Chardonnay

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:06 pm

Carl, I never realised that Finger Lakes could produce a chardonnay/s as you describe! Hope to see more notes and in time will do a google search for more background.
I think there must be a website out there relating to production overall??
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