GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

GTi Chardonnay

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 3, 2011.
Edited Oct 4, 2011

OK folks, month long GTi's are out, two week modules are in. October 1 we began with Chardonnay so let's hear your favorite Chardonnay stories and about your favorite wines.

Let me kick it off with an admission, I don't drink much Chardonnay, very little in fact. I think a lot of it is kind of crappy, though I am partial to Chablis. Part of my prejudice against Chardonnay has to do with the sort of asinine way I taste wine, without food.

With food I've been pretty surprised by how well Chardonnay performs. With all this talk about millennials drinking wine without food I have to wonder whether Chardonnay will be able to keep it hold on the millennial or white wine, though I do believe allot of this talk about millennials band wine is just that, talk from marketers who need to keep clients interested yet confused to justify their positions. Their roles as seers of all and purveyors of, well you fill in the banks.

So that doesn't say anything about my favorite Chardonnay but let's work up to that. What see you all?

Replies

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 3, 2011.

My favorite Chardonnays by far are White Burgundies, specifically Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. 

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Reply by EMark, Oct 3, 2011.

No favorite Chardonnay story.

I have always been partial to red wines, but since my diet consists more of white meats, I do drink quite a bit of white wine.  I have to admit that, lately, I have been more attracted to Chardonnays.  So, I have been looking for some better quality examples.  My success has ranged from OK but no great shakes to darned good.  Recently, I picked up two California samples from Lewis--a Napa and an RRV.  Lewis seems to have received a lot of recognition in the last few years--for both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I'll be happy to report on my impressions soon. 

I do not taste wine professionally.  So, I hardly ever drink wine without food.  There are social occasions when I do it, and, of course, at winery or retail store tastings.  I do appreciate the good work of the professionals do, but for me wine and food are truly meant to go together. ;-)

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Reply by spikedc, Oct 4, 2011.

Again, I have not tasted much Chardonnay and I am a distance from being an authority on wine but i was at  tasting recently at my local retailer and they had a Chilean Chardonnay 'Montes Alpha' 2009 from the Casablanca Valley. This was the stand out wine of the evening I was amazed how good it was,on the nose it had such a powerful smell of bannanas and exotic fruits that were starting to turn, not in a bad way but a great rich smell, buttery and oaky, the taste was even better and lingered long after swallowing. It was a bit rich and powerful for some of the others on the tasting but for me I love the richness as i do in my red wines.

Had this wine a few times since and enjoy it more every time i open a bottle. Love to hear of some more Chardonnays to try.

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Reply by duncan 906, Oct 4, 2011.

I am very Catholic in my tastes as far as wine goes as I can appreciate most bottles but I usually drink it with food.The best Chardonnay I have tasted was a small glass of Domaine Debray White Burgundy at last year's London France Show although it was quite expensive.It was not too dry or sharp like many Chablis would be and it contained plenty of fruit.More recently I had a bottle of Pierre Chanau Tastevinage Bourgogne Chardonnay which only cost about five pounds and was also excellent.I once had a bottle of Blossom Hill Chardonnay from California but that was nowhere near as good

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2011.

I've drunk a lot of chardonnay over the years, and it is one of my favorite whites when done well. Well for me is a more French style--depending on what I'm eating with it that could be Chablis with more acid, or Meursault or various Montrachets with more oak. Hell, even a well done Pouilly Fuisse. All that being said, I've also drunk my share of Californians, though I'm liking Sonoma Coast more than most Napas these days (though I will *never* turn down an aged Mayacamas). Central Coast can be a crap shoot. I also have a well-developed weakness for blanc de blancs champagnes and other sparklers.

Sunday I had a 2007 Yarden chard from the Golan Heights in Israel. More Californian than French, I suppose, but more restrained in its oakiness than, say, a La Crema. Good range of flavors on the nose and palate with a lengthyish finish. Not as much acid as might be ideal, but it was still a well put-together wine. Went extremely well with an Italian-style pizza topped with green tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mozzarella and more....

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 4, 2011.

Great run-down D...I need to try a lot more of the French style.  Haven't found much at all in Nor Cal or Central Coast as you say.  Can only remember a Maldonado (Sonoma) being somewhat enjoyable. Have a 2007 Far Niente in the cellar but am not expecting much.

GDP - Would love to hear your thoughts on either of the Ridge Chardonnays. Haven't got around to trying them yet.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 4, 2011.

Maldonado made some absolutely killer Chards several years ago, warm weather fruit, cool weather structure, almost salty minerality. I haven't had a Ridge Chard in about 5 years, though just found a 91 Monte Bello Chard in my recent cellar clean-up. Go figure!

Not sure why I never drank that bottle, but i do afterall have a bottle of 1979 Napa Cellars and 1980 Conn Creek still waiting in the basement so there is no good answer forthcoming. I don't mind Ridge's Chardonnay style but I can't say I've ever been wowed by one. But then again I have not historically been a particualr big Chardonnay fan, though Ch Montelena's has seen the fari share of the back of my teeth.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2011.

So Greg, why the shift to two weeks rather than a full month?

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 4, 2011.

Running out to a tasting but basically month long GTis didn't give people enough of a reason to post with-in a specified time frame and limited me to 12 sessions per year, not enoughto get to all the great varieties I need to get to!

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 4, 2011.

Think that's a good call Greg...hard to get excited about something like this for an entire month, though there might be exceptions like to celebrate a good and new Beajolais vintage.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 5, 2011.

So wait, Jon, you're saying beaujolais deserves more time than chardonnay or cab or...?  ;-)

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 5, 2011.

Provided it's a good vintage, Beaujolais is a lot more festive let's say ;0

Now if we start concentrating on a certain region producing good Cabernet or Chardonnay, my interest level would rise significantly.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 6, 2011.

Can get plenty festive with chard, for example, especially when it comes in bottles of blanc de blancs... ;-)

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 7, 2011.

Quite right, no argument here against white from whites.

Is there any CA dry Chard that could compete with a good Montrachet or Champagne?

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 8, 2011.

Had an interesting meal tonight. Tonkatsu (pork cutlets) done extremely well at a restaurant formed out of a traditional Japanese-style wooden residence in a somewhat fashionable part of town. Kurobuta pork filets from Kagoshima, with eggplant poached in dashi then peeled, and Hokkaido venison 'prosciutto' as starters. Shijimi (baby cockles) koji-miso soup, shredded cabbage, rice and lightly pickled vegetables with the main. Drizzled a little salt and lemon on half the cutlet, slight amounts of Japanese mustard and lemon on the other. Superb piece of meat. 

What was interesting was that this time I paired the meal with a BYOB Gosset Celebris Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV champers. Extremely well done in a blend that mixed aged wine in with the new. Creamy, some toast, gentle softness that was all about chardonnay. Very concentrated and dry but extremely well balanced with the acidity. Fine bubbles. Obvious malolactic fermentation as effective counterpoint to low dosage (sugar addition after second fermentation). Not harsh at all.

Tonkatsu is often a plebian luncheon but this restaurant's was an excellent supper. Instead of the usual beer accompaniment I tried the bubbly. It was a good match, and one of the better NVs I've had in quite awhile. Was debating whether to take it or another NV I want to try, a Tarant La Vigne d'Antan Extra Brut (which, btw, KL Wines carries, and their sales staff says has 'a very rich Chassagne-Montrachet like nose'). Any suggestions on what to pair that with? Would also be curious what these two bottles cost on the ground in France. Not particularly cheap in Tokyo.


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Reply by dmcker, Oct 9, 2011.

In case I wasn't clear above, I meant to say the kurobta pork filets were the main, with the starters before that, and that the malolactic fermentation seemed to have been full/complete.

I tried to edit the text above, but the window that opens is skewed to the right and half covered/obscured by the boxes to the right. So I couldn't see/correct hefty portions of the text. I've encountere this before, and it basically makes the edit function unusable....

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 13, 2011.

Actually had one of my better CA Chardonnay experiences tonight. Simi Russian River 2009.  Very subdued and gentle, some mellow butter, cream, lemon, oak. A blue cheese heavy wedge salad made for a nice pairing.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 14, 2011.

So you like a fair amount of oak on your chards, Jon?

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 14, 2011.

I'd say fair, balanced, subdued would all be good descriptors of the kind of oak I like.  For some reason, the Simi showed more oak on the nose than on the palate. 

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 14, 2011.

Had a fair amount of oak on a cheap white from Languedoc-Roussillon, a Maison Abbots Orthis 2006 a couple nights ago. Grenache blanc, roussane, viognier. With some seabass carpaccio, goatcheese salad and bouillabaise (we were sharing all the starters and the main). Switched to a Maison Abbotts Notus 2006 (not as cheap) with a confit d'canard. Syrah from Minervois. A little too much wine for the duck, but it was excellent, nonetheless, especially after it had a chance to open up--deep, elegant garnet robe. A bit of garrique, red fruits and black berries on the nose and palate. Slightly harsh tannins when freshly opened, but those mellowed out over the next hour or two (had asked them to open it the same time as the white). Maison Abbots does like their oak, but the vanilla and toast were hints, rather than overpowering. The bottle would've benefitted from cellaring, but was still a quite pleasant surprise.

Anyway I didn't start this to talk about the red, but mentioned it as something to keep an eye peeled for. Nor was I really meaning to talk about Southern French white blends, other than in the context of oak use. People who are weaned on Cote de Beaune chards, but even more California chards, tend to develop a liking for some oak. When well done, those hints I mentioned above add to the complexity and fullness of the experience. However California tended from the '80s into the '90s to go way overboard, blowing that part of the profile up into some sort of ridiculous caricature of itself. I've left most of those producers behind in my purchasing, but still like it when someone does the effect nicely (as in well restrained). I was surpised to find that in the GRV blend I chose for the bouillabaise.

It would, perhaps, be interesting to delve into just how various chards in Burgundy, California and elsewhere do that effect--lesser or more, better or worse....

 


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