jamie goode's wine blog: Chardonnay fest

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chardonnay fest

Four Chardonnays compared and contrasted. All pretty good.

Howard Park Chardonnay 2006 Great Southern, Western Australia
Fresh but warm nose of buttered toast, spice and citrus fruits. The palate is concentrated and taut with classy, toasty oak combining well with rich tropical fruits offset nicely by herby, lemony freshness. A refined, pure expression of new world Chardonnay that needs a year or two longer to show at its best. Finishes with lovely grapefruity acidity. This is a million miles away from overdone, blowsy Australian Chardonnays of yesteryear. 13% alcohol. 91/100 (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/)

Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay 2006 Sonoma Coast, California
Full yellow colour. Nutty nose has a fresh minerality to it, as well as a hint of lemon. The palate shows nice balance between some buttery softness and some firmer, slightly bitter citrussy notes. The overall effect is of a fairly sophisticated, well balanced and food friendly wine that doesn't show too much of that broad, fat, slightly blowsy personality that's the besetting sin of Californian Chardonnay. I'd be happy to drink this in a high-end restaurant with richer seafood dishes, and if it wasn't for the slight hint of bitterness on the finish I'd rate it higher. 89/100 (14.99 Waitrose, Majestic, but will be promoted in both soon at 9.99)

Louis Jadot Les Climats Chardonnay Reserve 2004 Burgundy, France
This is a bit different: from Burgundy, where terroir reigns supreme, we have a blend of different village and even 1er Cru sites, in a wine labelled varietally. It's creamy, sophisticated and a bit toasty on the nose, leading to a precise, gently nutty, lemony palate that's fresh and mineralic, with well integrated oak. With some bottle age, this is showing really well, and is surprisingly unevolved. It tastes like an ultra-sophisticated new world Chardonnay. 90/100 (13.99 Vickis of Chobham, Kingsgate Wine Winchester, 18.99 Thresher but with a multibottle deal)

La Chasse du Pape Chardonnay 'Unoaked' 2007 Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
Attractive broad, fruity nose. It's quite rich with melon, apple and pear. The palate is fresh and nicely fruity, with a really approachable sort of personality. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in charm. Impressive commercial winemaking. 86/100

So the comparison. The two new world Chardonnays? The Howard Park is more lively and fresher, with grapefruity notes adding to the citrus freshness. At this stage the oak is also a little more apparent. It would be interesting to see how these wines evolved: one under cork, and one under screwcap, both in slightly different styles. I think the Howard Park will certainly live the longest; which would be the most satisfying drink in three years is a more difficult question. Moving to France, the Climats is an interesting modern-styled white Burgundy that is developing very nicely. Its key feature is the citrussy freshness. I'll have to be honest, though: I wouldn't want to have faced this triumvirate blind, because the two new world wines are quite old world in style, while the old world wine is a bit new worldy. This tasting really shows how Chardonnay is such a global citizen: it seems to do quite well wherever it is planted. The final wine, the inexpensive Vin de Pays, overdelivers for its price point, but it is clearly a little out of its depth in this company.



At 7:44 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

How do you think Chateau Montelena chardonnay stands up to these? Is it still considered one of the best? I just saw a movie about them called "Bottle Shock" and I assume they're still considered good? The movie was great and I think a must see for all chardonnay lovers. Check out the trailer if you're interested at www.bottleshockthemovie.com

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Melissa, I haven't had it for a while, but I imagine it will be in a higher league, and quite elegantly styled. The winery has very recently been bought by Cos d'Estournel, as you probably know, and so things will probably change with the change of regime.


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