Once upon a time in Texas, there was a girl with an appetite and a dream...


Weekly Wino: What the hell's wrong with Chardonnay?

It's 100% Chardonnay, if you like that kind of thing.
--some guy working in a local wine bar, telling me about one of their sparkling wines

It never fails to surprise me when a "wine person" utters such nonsense. Can we please stop propagating the misguided idea that all Chardonnay is oaky and buttery and therefore bad? Please dismount the high horses, it only makes one seem ignorant to poo-poo an entire varietal for the unfortunate trends which have tainted this noble grape's reputation.

I guess this guy has never had a Chablis, more southerly Burgundy, or a Blanc de Blanc...? There are even some Chardonnays out of California that are fresh and clean, fermented in stainless steel and bottle-aged instead of barriqued.

The Chablis manifestation is where one should start to understand the truth of Chardonnay. It is usually naked, nervous, stripped of make-up and a hair dryer. But it has natural beauty which shines and delights even more because it's clean.

Still in Burgundy, but heading south, we might encounter some Côte de Beaune. This Chardonnay is a bit more voluptuous with its light touch of malo-lactic fermentation and kiss of oak. But eet ees zo French, done with elegance, destined for subtlety and long life.

Aaaaah, and Champagne. You know how I feel about bubbles. A good Blanc de Blanc (made with 100% Chardonnay) is an effervescent delight. Grapes are picked precociously, to maintain high acidity and low sugar, much like those spunky little gymnasts who remain tiny into adulthood to delight us with back-flips and perfect dismounts.

BUT...we wouldn't have a Weekly Wino without a wine, would we? The protagonist of this drama is a 2007 Côte de Lechet Chablis (premier cru) by Laurent Tribut. This wine is still a bit young, but its potential is clear and DoBianchi and I enjoyed it thoroughly on Valentine's Day. We will surely revisit this feminuccia in a year.

Tasting notes (let's go with a list, I have taken too much of your time already):

*Do you remember the Sprite "limon" from the 80s?
*strong minerality
*bit of hazelnut...or is that graphite?
*ultra tart pineapple
*if there were a crystal ball in this glass, I would see the future hint of cinnamon upon maturity
*apple peel

I encourage you to drink more Chardonnay and this one is a good place to start. Premier cru Chablis can be relatively inexpensive so go for it!

And if you are a wine professional, please speak responsibly because people do listen.

This wine is available locally at Austin Wine Merchant.

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Anonymous bill l said...

my wine merchant of choice, here in the mid atlantic, was blowing this wine out at something ridiculous like $19/ bottle maybe even less. i liked it but it was gone when i went back for more.
to have a recently released white burg from a well regerded producer go instantly to close out is a real sign of the times.

3/04/2009 4:00 PM

Blogger Do Bianchi said...

I can't wait to drink the René et Vincent Dauvissat we snagged on sale the other day. (I think that the two family's are related.)

"Champagne Ed" Ed McCarthy always talks about how blanc de blancs are such a great but overlooked expression of Chardonnay.

Great post...

3/04/2009 4:11 PM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

bill--wow! sign of the times, but time to take advantage

2B--thx dobi, maybe this weekend?

3/04/2009 9:18 PM

Anonymous Dirty said...

Anytime I hear someone do the general knock on Chard it totally blows my mind. There's too much great stuff out there to be brought down by the plonk.

3/04/2009 9:32 PM

Blogger The Limited Palate said...

Enjoying the frequency now. I been a-waitin'! ...here in Ohio.
Enjoy reading you.

3/04/2009 10:26 PM

Blogger Tracie B. said...

dirty--yes, a little wine knowledge can be a VERY obnoxious thing

LP--thanks for waiting...hopefully i've gotten this clunker out of the mud

3/05/2009 7:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a '98 Pouilly Fuisse from JA Ferret over the weekend (priced nicely as well) that reminds you of just how good chardonnay can get, and is a good counterpoint to anyone who thinks of chardonnay as some debased bottled kettle corn.

3/11/2009 8:56 PM

Anonymous Joe (joeshico) said...

Stayed away from Chardonnay's for a long time, until receiving a gift of Pouilly Fuisse a few years ago. Have since added Chablis and Meursault of my rack. The Meursault a bit pricey but finding many, many good Chablis and Pouilly Fuisse.

3/16/2009 11:40 PM


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