Hello Readers. My Wine Tribe is on vacation through mid-August. Until then, we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite posts from the past, such as this Chardonnay blind tasting. Happy summer!
As you know from my earlier post, I am puzzling over Chardonnay these days. As a person who self-identifies as an “anything but chardonnay” drinker I was pretty set in my ways. But I like to challenge myself. So I did a little research, learned that the world of Chardonnay extends beyond Napa and decided to dive in.
We got the tribe together for a blind tasting of four Chardonnays. All were recommended by my friends at Seattle’s Esquin Wine Merchants, who helped me set a lineup of two European and two American chards at a variety of price points:
- Domaine William Fevre 2012 Chablis (France): $29.99
- Domaine Jomain Puligny Montrachet 2013 (France): $58.99
- Argyle “Nuthouse” 2012 Chardonnay (Oregon): $33.99
- Freemark Abbey 2013 Chardonnay (California): $21.99
Picks by Palate
The Accessible Tribe planted one foot in the old world and one in the new by choosing as favorites the Chablis and the Freemark Abbey Chardonnay from California. This tribe appreciated the fruitiness of both wines and commented on the tangy, grapefruit flavors of the Chablis versus the sweet fruit of the wine from Freemark Abbey.
The Balanced Tribe preferred the Montrachet, with the Chablis coming in a strong second. They didn’t get a lot out of smelling the Montrachet—one taster summed it up as “water with a slice of lemon in it”—but they appreciated the tastes of lavender, apple and butter and the tangy finish. They loved their second choice, the Chablis, for its meadow-like scent and tastes of citrus.
The Developed Tribe was opposite of the Balanced Tribe: their first choice was the Chablis, and the Montrachet came in a strong second. Without food, this tribe found the Chablis to have a pleasant grassy, grapefruit taste. With food, however, this wine mellowed out and tasted more of pineapple and steel (in a good way!) The Developed Tribe appreciated the Montrachet for its flavors of cedar and apple pie.
The Complex Tribe, meanwhile, was all over the Freemark Abbey Chardonnay. They loved the silky mouthfeel and the lush tastes of tropical fruit, burnt butter and pear. Note that while this wine was aged in oak barrels, it didn’t go through the malolactic fermentation process so it wasn’t as dense as some other California Chardonnays.
Meanwhile, Back at the Nuthouse
In short, no. This was the one wine that everyone, regardless of tribe, had a similar opinion about, and it wasn’t great. The biggest issue was the wine’s aroma. It’s stinky. Tasters used words like “poop”, “garbage” and “skunk spray” to describe the smell. Though the wine itself tasted OK and some folks in the Developed and Complex tribes liked it, the scent was hard to get past. And so, the wine was not a favorite of any of the tribe members.
Your Chardonnay Recommendations
In summary, if you are in the Accessible Tribe, choose the Chablis or the Freemark Abbey Chardonnay. Balanced? Go with the Montrachet. Developed? Chablis is for you. And finally for you Complex folks out there, the Freemark Abbey is yours. Not sure what tribe you’re in? Find out and enjoy personalized recommendations based on your palate.
Luckily Chardonnay pairs well with lots of delicious summertime foods. Morgan, my blogger friend from Strudel & Streusel, whipped up delicious corn cakes as an app and our main course was a shrimp pasta. Neighbor brought a killer mango and tomato salad and Morgan brought it home with delectable strawberry rhubarb pies.
In closing, it seems that I am now an official fan of Chardonnay.