By Anthony Gismondi
Ita��s rosA� and white wine season on the coast and while fresh spot prawns, wild halibut and salmon are a big part of the reason to drink white and/or pink, the notion we should be drinking lighter and brighter probably has more to do with the weather and the predilection of Vancouver diners to run to the patio when the sun appears. Add to that a wealth of seafood available to us on the coast and maybe we should be drinking more white wine year a�?round.
The current state of fresh drinkable whites can be just about anything from marsanne, roussanne, Viognier and Grenache blanc in the Rhone and the south of France to Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, SA�millon, grA?ner veltliner and Pinot Gris grown all around the world. This month at Salut we suggest turning the clock back a bit and taking another look at the worlda��s favourite white wine: Chardonnay. The red wine pendulum is swinging back into the white zone so why wait for the rush?
If ita��s been a while since you ventured into the Chardonnay section, you will be in for a pleasant surprise. White wine is cooler than ever and serving the perfect Chardonnay, perhaps under a screwcap, could make you look like a wine wiz in short order. The ABC or a�?anything but Chardonnaya�? days are over among savvy wine drinkers thanks to the many crisp, fresh, cool-climate, less-oaked Chardonnays now available in the market.
For the unaware, we simply know wso much more today about growing white wine grapes and turning them into wine than we did less than 20 years ago. In fact, most Chardonnay made in the 1980s looks almost prehistoric alongside anything bottled today a�� think California Chardonnay in the early 1990s versus some of the examples we see come off extreme coastal sites today. It appears while consumers were happily exploring Sauvignon and Riesling and friends, Chardonnay vineyards have been retooled a�� pushed to the coolest and most marginal vineyard sites (in terms of weather) where acidity and fruit are intensified long before the grape gets to the winery.
Here at home, similar changes are well underway. Not to beat a dead horse but the Okanagana��s only hope is to find a way to express its unique place in the wine world. If Blue Mountain has stayed the course for two decades producing a less-is-more Chardonnay-style newcomer, Meyer Vineyard has staked acclaim to that territory while gradual refinement have brought Mission Hill, CedarCreek, Burrowing Owl, Joie, Road 13 and more back into the picture.
In short, Chardonnay is fresher, crisper and more fun to drink, especially with food. To illustrate just how broad a selection you can draw upon at the moment, Ia�?ve selected 10 very different bottles available in restaurants, private wine shops and/or government liquor stores in your neighbourhood.
Finca Los Primos Chardonnay 2013 $11 is fun Argentine white to kick off your summer of Chardonnay. Besides its pleasant light peach, citrus, floral aromas you get a creamy palate with more peach, pear skin and baked apple flavours. Ita��s crazy value at $11. When it comes to patio parties, it can be bought by
the dozen and best of all it will work well with most patio appetizers.
Similar in style if not fresher is Douglas Green Chardonnay 2012 $13 from the Western Cape, South Africa. Ita��s almost impossible to find wines at $13 with any varietal character let alone style but this wine can surprise as well. Fresh, juicy and round, it over-delivers. Try it with sushi rolls or grilled vegetarian kebabs. Simple, fresh style suited to luncheons and patio.
The ArdA?che river slices through the limestone foothills of the Massif Central and along the steep chalky/clay slopes, planted since Roman times, Louis Latour planted Chardonnay. The result is a Louis Latour ArdA?che Chardonnay 2011 $14, maybe the best ArdA?che we have tasted, that comes with modern, fresh, ripe red apple fruit flecked with butter and nuts. Impressive for the price and wonderful with white meats.
Closer to home, where prices have soared in the last decade, the Mission Hill Five Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 $15 gives a little back. Winemaker John Simes knows Chardonnay and in this case the 5V is showing some of the creamy, complex notes found in his higher-priced SLC and Perpetua labels. We love the fresh bright style, the pear and green apple fruit with floral mineral support. Chicken salads, or any of your favourite tomato dishes would work.
Organic fruit is behind the Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 $19 from Mendocino County, California. California is always warmer and you taste it in the fresh, juicy, slightly sweet entry with nutty lees, canned peach, passion fruit and apple flavours. A crowd pleaser you can sip solo or pair with seafood pasta.
In a cool 2011, vintage winemaker Mark Lyon has turned out an attractive Sebastiani Sonoma Chardonnay 2011 $21 mixing honey and lees on the nose with fresh pear and citrus flavours with a dash of toast and vanilla. Quintessential Sonoma with just a touch of sweetness, spice and butter on the finish. Perfect for crab or lobster dishes.
If there is a more consistent local Chardonnay than Blue Mountain Chardonnay 2012 $21 Ia��m not aware of it. Blue Mountain has always been about lees is more and for many years was way ahead of the pack when it came to style. You will love its creamy palate with nutty lees, butterscotch, baked apple, lemon peel and honey. Balanced, textured, and complex all in one. Pick your whitefish and prepare it simply.
Wolf Blass turns 80 this year and while he was famous for his oaky Chardonnay back in the day, his latest work Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013 $23 is as modern as it gets. Under screwcap, the style is clean and fresh, lighter with juicy acidity. Creamy, garlic, nutty lees with baked green apple, peach and honey deliver the full flavour style of Oz. Grilled prawns with a butter sauce would be a great match.
Ita��s hard to describe how delicious the Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Reserve de Vaudon 2012 $29 is in the glass. The fruit is bio-dynamically grown and the fermentation and aging is all done in stainless steel for seven to eight months. The nose is unexpectedly expressive, at least for Chablis, with floral, yellow fruits with bits of chalk and minerality. The attack is fresh with fine acidity, red apple fruit and stony minerality. A perfect oyster wine.
Finally from the Drouhin family in Oregon, Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2012 $32 is a Willamette Valley superstar for the price. Juicy and creamy with a whack of green apple, nutty, butterscotch flavours and bits of citrus, nectarine skin and pea shoot flavours. Perfect with fresh halibut.
Chardonnay has never really lost its lustre but it has lost its fat during the years and as a result ita��s never been better. Halibut anyone?
order lukol tablets Finca Los Primos Chardonnay 2013, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina
Price $11 Score | 86/100
Pleasant light peach, citrus, lees, floral aromas. The attack is fresh and round, the palate creamy with light butter, lees, peach, pear skin and baked apple flavours. Clean, easy-sipping style that will go well with food. Solid value here with none of the overt butter or sweetness found in many wines at this price. Terrific value.
Douglas Green Chardonnay 2012, Western Cape, South Africa
Price $13 | Score 85/100
Green apple, peach, light lees, grassy, earthy aromas. Fresh, juicy, round palate with green apple skin, canned grapefruit, butter and lees flavours. Simple, fresh style suited to luncheons and patio.
Louis Latour ArdA?che Chardonnay 2011, France
Price $14 | Score 88/100
Maybe the best ArdA?che we have tasted. The nose is fresh and complex with lemon toast and lees notes. The attack is bright and fresh with ripe red apple fruit and flecks of butter and nuts. Impressive for the price and wonderful with white meats. Excellent value.
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, Okanagan Valley, B.C. http://wpbartre.bartre.com/?p=3322
John Simes knows Chardonnay and in this case, the 5V is showing some of the creamy, complex notes found in its SLC and Perpetua bigger brothers. Love the fresh bright style, the pear and green apple fruit with floral mineral support. The winery suggests risotto and spring vegetables but at this time of the year Ia��m thinking whole roasted chicken or grilled halibut. Good value.
buy pills Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, Mendocino County, California, U.S.
Fresh, honey, lees, baked apple and butterscotch aromas. Fresh, juicy, slightly sweet entry with nutty lees, canned peach, grapefruit rind, waxy, passion fruit and apple flavours. Not quite as good as previous editions. Ready to drink.
Sebastiani Sonoma Chardonnay 2011, Sonoma County, California, U.S.
Price $21 | Score 88/100
After a cool 2011, vintage winemaker Mark Lyon has turned out an attractive style Chardonnay mixing honey and lees on the nose with fresh pear and citrus flavours with a dash of toast and vanilla. Quintessential Sonoma with just a touch of sweetness, spice and butter on the finish. Perfect for crab or lobster dishes.
Blue Mountain Chardonnay 2012, Okanagan Valley, B.C.
Price $21 | Score 88/100
Green apple, citrus, pear, light butter, vanilla and nut aromas. Fresh, round, creamy palate with nutty lees, butterscotch, baked apple, lemon peel and honey. Good texture and finish in what is a very solid effort.
Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Price $23 | Score 89/100
Burnt toast, smoky, reductive garlic lees, struck matchstick, baked apple nose with pea shoot, passion fruit and guava aromas. Fresh, elegant, lighter style with juicy acidity. Creamy, garlic, nutty lees, baked green apple, peach, honey, smoky and more struck matchstick flavours. Good finesse but finish is marred by some residual sulphur notes. Give this some air when opened or another year in bottle.
Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Reserve de Vaudon 2012, Chablis, Burgundy, France
Price $29 | Score 90/100
More like 2010, this is a delicious example of straight up Chablis. The fruit is bio-dynamically grown and the fermentation and aging is all done in stainless steel for seven to eight months. Expect an expressive nose, at least for Chablis, with floral, yellow fruits with bits of chalk and minerality. The attack is fresh with fine acidity, red apple fruit and stony minerality. A perfect oyster wine.
Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2012, Willamette Valley, Oregon, U.S.
Price $32 | Score 90/100
Citrus, floral, attractive nutty lees nose with light vanilla aromas. Fresh, crisp, juicy but creamy palate with green apple, waxy, nutty, butterscotch, spicy, nectarine skin and pea shoot flavours with a citrusy finish. Good intensity but still youthful and will continue to improve in bottle. Perfect with fresh halibut. Arthur is made from 100 per cent Dijon clones that were first planted in Oregon in 1992.
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