There comes a time in every man's life when he must man up and admit that he loves Chardonnay. I mean this as a true obligation, and one that many man can never concur. The stigmas abound and are difficult to face, but failing to achieve this difficult task only serves to rob oneself of the joys that this often maligned (and often mistreated) grape adds to one's life. With this goal in mind the brilliant minds behind the Pasadena Society of Millenials Interested in Observations on Fermented Fruit sat down to a long and lustrous lineup of Chardonnay recently. What resulted was a qualitative increase in the number each person assigned (from 1-10) in their adherence with the following statement:
'I think Chardonnay makes some of the most interesting and beautiful white wine in the world and will try to find a place for it in my regular drinking and purchasing habits.'
If you too are ready to tackle this right of passage, I provide for you a list of rather diverse California and French Chardonnays for your persevering efforts, presented in order of the group's ratings:
1) Liquid Farm 2010 'White Hill' Chardonnay -Wow, this is an amazing wine from a new winery in Sta. Rita Hills with a distinct point of view. This wine smells of lemon meringue and a bit of grass. It brims with bright acidity, citrus notes, honey, and a beautiful touch of minerality. This is so incredibly fresh it will wine you over instantly - a truly beautiful Chardonnay at $38.
2) Bedrock Wine Company 2009 Brousseau Vineyard Chalone Chardonnay - Seems New World fruit with an Old World sensibility stole the show as this is another restrained, minerally wine with a touch of sweet green apple, amazing florality, and a kiss of salinity. The balance in this wine is spectacular and the flavors that emerge as it crosses your palate are very pleasing. This is a superbly crafted wine - and one I put on par with Liquid Farm.
3) Melville Estate 2010 Wente Selection - Available to wine club only, this wine was rich and leesy, with tropical pineapple on the nose and palate. And yet it snapped to a crisp finish and showed a rich minerality. Stunningly Californian, and a pleasure to drink Melville often gets my highest recommendation.
4) Peter Micheal Belle Cote 2009 - I had high hopes for this wine, and it was good. Brimming with tropical fruit - papaya and pineapple, there was also a distinct aspect of fresh bread dough to this wine. The oak was apparent but integrated, and an aspect of vanilla sugar finished it off nicely. For me this wine was very good, but not worth the price.
5) Saarloos and Sons 2008 Daughter's Chardonnay - I am only realizing now that Caifornia deftly overshadowed France in our specific tasting, and this Santa Barbara helped that right along. A nice wine for the $24 price tag, this wine was riper than the previous with cotton candy and sweet tropical fruit throughout. The acid was a bit prickly yet, but I can certainly recommend this wine for those who like fatter California Chardonnay.
6) 2008 Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet - Alright, France's turn, and this one was certainly showing the more mineral, stony, lean side of Chardonnay. A bit characterless, this wine showed apple skins, underripe pineapple, and a sense of dry extract. Alright in itself, but not worth the $50 price tag - this wine was a bit of a disappointment.
7) Ramey 2009 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay - A bit too much for most of the crowd, this was creamy, oaky, toffee, and ripe pear. I thought it was handled nicely and the elements were in balance, but it didn't go over well with those adverse to a bit of butter and oak. At $60 this is a splurge, and should only be purchased by those who like their Chard big and ripe.
8) Robert Denogent 2008 St. Veran - Austere and dry, this wine was rocky, minerally, and had some big acidic lift. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't interesting and definitely needed to be on a dinner table. The majority called it a pass as the simplicity was not met with enough interest.
9) A Macon that will remain unnamed was completely oxidized - cool to taste if you like nutty sherry type flavors, but not fair to include in the evaluation.
A nice lineup to display the diversity and wonder of Chardonnay, and a proud declaration - I love Chardonnay!