Chardonnay, a grape variety that can cause great disparity in wine drinkers. There are many that fall into the “Anything But Chardonnay” camp, and others that love that it can have many different expressions; depending on the climate, soil, and the hands of the winemaker. Some people do not even know they are drinking Chardonnay, but really enjoy French Chablis or White Burgundy, but guess what? These wines are made predominantly from the Chardonnay grape. Today’s seminar at the Vancouver International Wine Festival was to introduce us to winemakers from around the world, and their expressions of Chardonnay in the glass.
While there were 12 Chardonnays to taste, two were Champagnes, which you may not know is one of the 3 primary grapes used for Champagne. The wines covered both New World and Old World regions; France, Italy, Canada (BC), Australia, New Zealand, USA (California). It would have been nice to have a Chardonnay from Chile and one from South Africa. South Africa, in particular as it has it’s foot both in the Old World and New World, and would have been interesting to see how it compares to the other wines.
The Chardonnays we sampled at this seminar:
Lanson Extra Age Blanc de Blanc NV (France)
- Thienot Cuvee Stanislas Thienot Champagne 2004 (France)
- Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2010 (Canada)
- Ca’ del Bosco Chardonnay Curtefranca, DOC 2009 (Italy)
- Marchesi Antinori Cervaro Della Sala 2010 (Italy)
- Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots 2006 (France)
- Louis Latour Meursault 1er Cru Chateau de Blagny 2009 (France)
- Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (Australia)
- Tyrell’s Wines Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay 2009 (Australia)
- Marisco Vineyards The King’s Bastard Chardonnay 2011 (New Zealand)
- Marimar Estate La Masia Chardonnay 2009 (California)
- Signorello Estate Winery Hope’s Cuvee Chardonnay 2010 (California)
Looking over my notes I see some similarities in the wines, such as stone fruit and tropical fruit aromas and flavours, and in general a restrained use of oak. My favourite wines of the seminar had an Old World hand, but were from both New and Old World regions.
The first wine I really liked was the Thienot Cuvee Stanislas Thienot Champagne 2004 (France). This champagne comes from the Youngest House in the Champagne region, established in 1985. This champagne was aged 6 years on it’s lees which comes through on the nose, along with lemon aroma. It is dry on the palate with a bigger bubble. Light mouth feel, citrusy with a hint of red cherry or strawberry.
The Ca’ del Bosco Chardonnay Curtefranca DOC 2009 (Italy) was very elegant. The grapes come from the foot of the Alps in Lombardy, from 7 different vineyards. This wine was a bright lemon/golden in colour. Stone fruit, honey, flowers and a touch of vanilla aromas in the glass. Lighter bodied, dry, with lemon and tropical fruit flavours Some sweet spices, and vanilla or baby powder rounds out the palate.
Antinori’s Marchesi Antinori Cervaro Della Sala 2010 (Italy) had a very nice nose with honey, apricots and tropical fruit. This wine was a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Grechetto; the latter providing acidity to the wine so that it has more aging potential. It had a round mouth feel, soft, with flavours of dried apricots, honey and sweet spices. Long Length.
My last favourite wine was from California, while the other wines were from Europe, but this last wine, the Marimar Estate La Masia Chardonnay 2009 (California), is made by Ms. Marimar Torres, who comes from the famous Torres wine making family from Spain. I talked about Marimar Estate in a previous article as I tasted through all the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs brought to the Festival, and all were exceptional. Marimar Estate I think was my overall favourite winery of the Vancouver International Wine Festival. This wine had honey and dried apricot aromas. Round and soft mouth feel, with tropical fruit and dried apricot flavours. Honey upfront and spiciness on the finish. This wine tastes sweet, but it is not; you are tasting the full fruitiness of the Chardonnay grape here. I also liked the minerality of this wine. I think it adds an edge to a wine, complementing the fruit flavours, and adding a mouthwatering brightness to it.
I also did also like the Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2010, the Louis Latour Meursault 1er Cru Chateau de Blagny 2009, and the Marisco Vineyards The King’s Bastard Chardonnay 2011, and would not hesitate to recommend them. Enjoy!