I think this chapter should really be titled “Too Many Chardonnays.” I’ve learned a new appreciation for Chardonnay, and I’m impressed by the varieties of end results the grape can take on, but the next tasting is a four-up of Chardonnays, and I can’t really say I’m excited.
One Wine, Tasted Alone: 2007 Hawk Crest Chardonnay
The point of this tasting is to observe a California Chardonnay made in the MÃ¢connais style. I’m not really sure what beyond that is the point per se beyond to get us started in Chardonnay?
Clear pale-medium yellow, this wine is aromatic with fruit, sawdust, apple orchard, and the smell of “fruit in wooden crates.”
The wine is dry, medium-bodied, and tart! Powerful flavors of “drinking a crisp apple tart made with Braeburn apples.” Short finish of applesauce that shows up out of nowhere and disappears just as fast.
For us, this wine is a one-hit wine. No real complexity or depth, just simple, unchallenging, and unoffensive.
Two Wines, Tasted Together: Blind
I enlisted the help of Peter at Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines in order to set up a blind tasting. I didn’t want to know anything about the wines beyond that one should preferably be from the US (since this is the “whites of the United States” chapter), similar enough vintages, roughly the same price, and 100% Chardonnay. As a result, I received these two lovely orange bottles:
The glasses gave little away; it was difficult discerning any real visual difference between the wines, beyond that Wine #1 was a little more in the gold direction, and #2 a little more in the greenish-yellow direction. The assumption visually is that #1 might be oaked whereas #2 was not.
Wine #1 was watery gold with moderate aromas of syrup, green apple, mineral, grass, oak, chemicals, smoke, and pears. On the palate it was slightly off dry, medium-bodied, and smooth with low soft tannins. A little cat piss, chlorine, a little grapefruit, pear, bananas, burnt sugar, oak, smoke, and forest floor. The finish was tangy and strong, though we were split; I thought it was an extremely long finish and my partner in crime thought it extremely short. For a wine that smelled pretty fruity, it wasn’t in the mouth.
Overall a relatively interesting Chardonnay; maybe Washington state, as a shot in the dark?
Wine #2 was watery greenish-yellow, moderate aromas of barnyard, cheddar, yeasted bread, and ammonia. Medium sweet with medium-full body, the acidity was downright flabby, couldn’t detect any tannins, flavor intensity was moderate, and what we found was wet clay, butter, barnyard, hay, mineral, and a bit of spicy. It had that chalky mouth-coating aspect that seems to annihilate any real flavors coming through. This wasn’t enjoyable, for me it really needed some acid to cut through the sweetness and fullness of the thing to achieve balance.
Another wild guess, maybe this is from South America? South Africa?
My guesses were, of course, embarrassingly wrong. Bottle #1 was in fact a South African wine — the 2010 Diemersdal Chardonnay Reserve.
The second bottle was the 2007 Stephen Ross Chardonnay from Edna Valley:
I guess it goes to show that I don’t really know crap about wine yet, but that’s okay.