Wine Talk

Snooth User: Muchkabouche

Looking For a Comparable Chardonnay

Posted by Muchkabouche, Dec 14, 2009.

I am looking for a Chardonnay that is a carbon copy of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. You know the one from the movie Bottle Shock......"Buttery, layered, beautiful...." but not brown. All kidding aside, I have shelled out over $50 for this and it is a beautiful, complex, buttery, layered Chardonnay. One of my personal favorites that I really enjoy.....maybe once a year.

The question of the day is, is there something out there available that is comparable in taste and complexity, but easier on the pocket book? I would be interested in the observations of those who have experienced far more chardonnays than my limited exposure. Thanks in advance.

Replies

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 14, 2009.

You may want to do a Snooth search to find wines that match this. I did a quick one and you can see the results here:

http://www.snooth.com/wines/buttery...

There are a bunch that are listed under $20 so you can do a bit of experimenting. I'm not so much for the big, rich style chardonnay's but you may want to look at:

La Crema Russian River Chardonnay: http://www.snooth.com/wine/la-crema...

Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Chardonnay: http://www.snooth.com/wine/sonoma-c...

A little more pricey but, hopefully, still in the range you are looking for.

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Reply by Muchkabouche, Dec 14, 2009.

Thanks for the suggestion. Does anyone know if Chateau Montelena compares well in taste to a recent vintage of Grgich Hills? I believe over 30 years ago the winemaker for Chateau Montelena was the same winemaker later on for Grgich Hills, right? Although more recently, his family has actually been making the wine, with noticeable changes from his style. I have not had it, so cannot say from experience.

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 14, 2009.

Looks like the Grgich Hills Chardonnay is stepping away from the rich style to the more crisp style Chardonnay. From the tasting notes of the current 2007 release:

"Crafted from grapes that were certified organic and Biodynamic, our Chardonnay did not undergo malolactic fermentation, creating a wine that is alive with delicious acidity. This aromatic wine is rich with aromas of ripe peach, mango and tropical flowers, plus a note of minerality. Showcase this Chardonnay's elegance with fresh seafood, roasted chicken, grilled pork, or creamy cheeses."

http://www.grgich.com/store/index.c...

No malolactic means no buttery texture.

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 14, 2009.

I noticed a marked change in the Grgich Hills even back in the late '90s, so much so that I stopped buying them this decade. I wouldn't place them in the same class as Montelena, at all. I liked Chalone Vineyards' chardonnay even better than Montelena's back in the '70s and early '80s, but they've also gone downhill in recent years.

Why don't you focus on a couple of specific areas, say the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley, and taste your way through several different wineries? Not a horrible hunting expedition....

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Reply by Muchkabouche, Dec 15, 2009.

Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley for a tasting expedition. Hmmm, sounds just as rewarding as anything that Lewis and Clark ever discovered. Thanks for the tip. Dmcker, from your comments of the mentioned wines going downhill, do I read in this that you do like the rich, full buttery, malolactic fermentation effect on a Chardonnay over a crisp fruity one? My take on it is if I want crisp and fruity, go for a Pinot Gris (Kings Estate, for example).

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 15, 2009.

No, I definitely like a balanced wine, sometimes big, but usually more restrained and staying within its grapes and what the terroir is wanting to do. More often than not a Burgundian style chardonnay rather than a California blowhard. Whether the Burgundy style is from Chablis or Montrachet or other areas between and around, and how much oak is used is open to the skills of the winemaker in working with the grapes he or she is given. And some producers in California may hint of that restraint while running off in other directions that are interesting.

Vague enough? To further complicate it, bottle age and the foods I'm having also are major factors. What I was saying was that I just didn't like the machinations that Grgich was employing by that point, and felt he'd lost his touch (or had handed responsibility off to lesser-skilled people in his operation). Didn't like the balance, overall picture he was/they were painting, whatever analogy you wish...

John's recommendation of La Crema is a good starting point, in my opinion, too. Try a range of prices from a range of wineries along the Russian River, then move on to the Sonoma Coast, and try to save a little extra for the pricier ones there. At the end of that trek you'll have gained a lot of knowledge, via lots of pleasure, and will have a different perspective on chardonnay, California, Burgundy, chardonnays from other regions, and even Montelena. Pull in a few Burgundian chardonnays along the way for reference purposes, starting with the Maconnais and Chalonnais offerings for budgetary reasons. They're in the south of the region towards Beaujolais, and are cheaper than their more famous northern neighbors from the Cote d'Or. Pouilly Fuisse is a reasonable place to start.

And grace us with posts from your winetravels, too! ;-)

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 15, 2009.

John, do we want to start a tangent here on our favorite Sonoma chardonnays, over whatever price ranges?

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 15, 2009.

Sounds like a good plan to me!

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 16, 2009.

@dmcker ... new topic created: http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/so...

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Reply by Muchkabouche, Dec 18, 2009.

My journey will begin with a trip to World Market in Lansing, MI on my way to the nectars from California wine country. I picked up two to begin the trek. Rosenblum Chardonnay and Napa Cellars Chardonnay. The descriptions led me to start there, including toasty oak, citrus, well balanced and developed, caramel and butter. Mmmmm. I will post my observations in the days to come.

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Reply by Muchkabouche, Dec 21, 2009.

The first sample on the journey was the 2008 Napa Cellars Chardonnay. This was a substantial wine. Fruity and juicy, that was balanced by an oakey-caramel undertone. I detected some "earth", maybe "minerality" that added a nice bit of bitterness to keep it from being a sweeter Chardonnay. It reminded me of Conundrum. The mouthfeel was smooth and medium, not clinging to the mouth, yet a good full lingering aromatic on the end, over 10 seconds. Not at all a wimpy, light wine. This was a nice experience for me. Nice choice for about $18.

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 21, 2009.

Great to see you're taking that leap out there and trying some new wines. I see you mentioned the Conudrum there. If you like that wine you should try the Beringer White Alluvium. IT is a great white blend too. http://www.snooth.com/wine/beringer...


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