Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 2010 Chardonnays: 10 Tasted of 10

The following are chardonnays set aside for tasting in May. Cheers, Ww

  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Chardonnay Reserve 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench,  92-2  --  O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $25.15
  • Fog Head Reserve Chardonnay Monterey 2008, 91-2  -- V, Manteca, California, #158568 $19.95
  • Southbrook Vineyards ‘Triomphe’ Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake,  90-1  --  V, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario,  #172338  $21.95
  • Craggy Range Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2007, 90  --  V, Hawkes Bay, NZ, #132043 $34.95*
  • Nyarai Cellars Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery  $16.20
  • Irony ‘Napa Valley’ Chardonnay 2008,  90-1  --  V, Manteca, California,  #027409 $19.95
  • Le Clos Jordanne ‘Claystone Terrace’ Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  V, Lincoln, Ontario, #056929  $40.00
  • Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay 2008, 80  --  V, West Coast, S. Africa, #328559 $14.95
  • Featherstone Estate Winery 'Canadian Oak' Chardonnay 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 79  --  O, Vineland, Ontario, #Winery $22.15  
  • Vineland Estates Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  77  --  G, Vineland, Ontario, #669374 $12.85

FOG HEAD RESERVE CHARDONNAY MONTEREY 2008, Manteca, California, (Map It!) 14.5% XD, #158568 $19.95 (Retasted May 13, 2010)  CS

A Vintages release on January 23, 2010 described (Aug. 2009) as “From the brilliant straw colour through all the flavours and aromas, this is a top-notch Monterey Chardonnay. Loads of tropical fruit, green apple, pear, smoke/toast aromas lead to a dry, flavourful, impactful palate. A terrific wine for a variety of fish, poultry, vegetarian or pork dishes.  My notes: From Delicato Vineyards. A clean and crisp gold in the glass with a fragrance of caramel coated Granny smith, Bosc pear - light on the pear. Forms a firm film evenly receding. Full-bodied and tangy bright on the first sip, pineapple, lemon with some butter in the texture makes this a delightful sipper. The acid seam maintained its presence during a meal of vegetarian pizzas; one of asparagus and goat cheese and one of anchovies and mozzarella. Bright fruit dominates a long warm finish. An interesting sipper as well as dinner white - should keep well for several years. 91

IRONY ‘NAPA VALLEY’ CHARDONNAY 2008, Manteca, California, (Map It!) 14.5% D, #027409  $19.95  (Tasted May 10, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on April 3, 2010 described anonymously (undated) as “… This crowd-pleasing Chardonnay is loaded with apple, peach and pear fruit, along with a measured amount of toasty oak character. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a medium-long finish. Match it to grilled salmon steaks or mildly spiced vindaloo chicken.  My notes: Another Delicato Vineyards chardonnay to try.  The Irony shows a firm film with slow legs, a colour not quite golden and subdued aromas - I'll wait a few minutes - yes, it's subdued, certainly not objectionable. There's a metal edge to well balanced fruit and acid giving this initially a high sip-appeal. The finish has a sweet side to a light gooseberry, lemon and mango confirming the sip-appeal. Medium-bodied and polite it would serve as a social mixer or the jump start to a  seafood plate up to a chicken and split pea risotto.  90   
SOUTHBROOK VINEYARDS ‘TRIOMPHE’ CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, NOTL, Ontario, (View It!) 12.0% D, #172338 $21.95 (Tasted May 1, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on April 3, 2010 described by the Vintages panel (February 2010) as “Attractive and youthful medium-yellow-gold colour with a green tinge. Lots of toast, apple crumble, vanilla extract and hazelnut aromas. This dry wine is fairly oaky, but the intensity of the fruit is more than up to the challenge of bringing this wine in line. Full bodied with a medium-long, nicely balanced finish. Cellar it 2-4 years, or match it tonight with pork roast with green beans or smoked oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel).” My notes:An oaked chardonnay in colour and aromas: golden in the glass and a delicate scent of caramelized apple with melted butter. A swirl leaves a firm film slowly tearing and a first sip wakens the buds with a prod, nicely tangy, and unsweetened apple crumble flavours. All together, there’s interest as a sipper… luscious with depth and texture. The finish continues with thin velvet smoothness and tart apple. Have chilled, offchill or pair with chicken pastas or grilled seafood. Cellar for several years, rather than drink now, to possibly bring out more caramel.  90

LE CLOS JORDANNE ‘CLAYSTONE TERRACE’ CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Lincoln, Ontario, (View It!) 14.0% XD, #056929 $40.00 (Tasted May 5, 2010)  CS
A Vintages release on March 20, 2010 described by the Vintages panel (January 2010) as “… The aromas of toast, tropical fruit, floral, peach, and nettles all play off each other to perfection. It's dry, full bodied, with terrific balance and structure. A real charmer with a long finish. Consider cellaring this ageworthy beauty 3-5+ years, or, if you wish to enjoy it now, decant it… and match it to roast pork.” My notes: ‘‘Twenty Mile Bench’ is displayed prominently on the label along with a Vineyard however grapes may have been sourced anywhere in the Niagara Peninsula as the VQA (almost illegible) allows. A greenish hue to a straw colour and aromas needing a few minutes to show, perhaps a faint tea. A light film with slow tears forms on a swirl. The first sip has a chalk-dry tang and unusual flavours of mild white grapefruit and muted tea. A medium-bodied, cleansing sipper with a long, extra dry finish carrying grapefruit and nettles to a clay end. I didn’t get butter nor caramel. Scallops or grilled whitefish should be a match for this extra dry meal white.  82
VINELAND ESTATES CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, (Map It!) 12.0% D, #669374  $12.85  (Tasted May 1, 2010) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Bright yellow colour; aromas and flavours of citrus, apple/pear and fresh fig; dry, medium to full bodied, with crisp balanced acidity and a long finish. Serve with grilled salmon or light white meats, especially when served with a cream sauce.”  My notes: Less than delicate, an almost imperceptible nose, chilled or offchill, but not objectionable. Flavours are mainly of faint citrus and melon, nicely balanced with moderate fullness and a silky texture. The finish is long although overall having little of interest - improved off chill imho. A simple sipper and may be paired with grilled scallops or whitefish. Not for cellaring.  77

CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY 2008, Western Cape, S Africa, (Map It!) 14.5% D, #328559  $14.95  (Tasted May 25, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on April 17, 2010 rated 4 out of 5 and described by John Platter South African Wines (2010) as “The top-tier KWV range honours… Full, rich & ripe 2008, perhaps shade less elegant than 2007 but still very fine. Dense apricot, peach complement fat texture and toasty oak…”. My notes: A golden colour, a firm film with slow legs and, after a few minutes, aromas of lemon, melon and faint grass open up for sniffing. Full-bodied with a roughness that is more prominent through a long finish. From sip to finish flavours are apricot and lemon ending with grassiness and heat. As elegant as a ‘barmaid‘. Pair with chicken, creamy scallop or shrimp pastas, creamy herb risotto or salmon pot pies. A drink now.  80   
CRAGGY RANGE (View It!) SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2007, Hawkes Bay, NZ, (Map It!) 14.5% D, #132043  $34.95*  (Tasted May 3, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on November 21, 2009 rated 5 out of 5 and described by Bob Campbell, MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine (June/July 2008) as “New Zealand wine fanatics covet the wines from the tiny area known as Gimblett Gravels. This is a full-throttle Chardonnay … Full-flavoured and fleshy with an appealing mix of oak, grapefruit, hazelnut and bran biscuit flavours. The high alcohol is certainly not excessive. Rich and moderately complex wine”.  My notes: The LCBO showed the original price as $39.95. Has a straw colour and scent of papaya and nettles, full-bodied with flavours of unripe grapefruit, tangy, extra dry, steel edged going into a long finish of grapefruit seed. A swirl leaves an evenly receding scalloped edge slowly breaking up and flowing as tears. Quite acerbic as a sipper but with an interesting crisp fullness - is a meal white. Pair with fresh oysters, grilled bacon wrapped scallops or a fish fry. Drink now or cellar a year - may have had some ripe fruit in 2008.  90

NYARAI CELLARS CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, (Map It!) 13.0% D, #Winery  $16.20  (Tasted May 23, 2010)

The website says "The only white wine from Nyarai Cellars produced from this great vintage. Maturated in French oak barrels for 12 months, fruit exclusively selected from two of the finest sites in Niagara-On-The-Lake. Primary fermentation conducted in stainless steel tank to capture defined fruit character and retain acidity. With an inviting nose of sweet oak and ripe yellow tropical fruit notes, this wine is well versus with green apple peel, vanilla and a hint of toffee accompanied with crisp acidity. A considerate candidate for pleasurable enjoyment with smoked Salmon, grilled Chicken or creamy pasta dishes." My notes: Crystal clear and a pale golden in the glass, given a few minutes to breathe and lose the chill there’s a faint scent of caramel and apple. A light film with fast tears gives an impression of delicate elegance. The flavours follow the nose adding a smooth texture and tart seam for a medium-bodied, lightly oaked chardonnay. Enjoyable as a sipper, better paired with seafood or chicken breast yes, smoked salmon may be a stretch. Short term cellaring may bring out some butterscotch.  90

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, (Map It!) 14.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted May 19, 2010)

Described by the Winery as “Our 3 barrels were aged sur lie in premium French oak barrels for 10 months. The malolactic fermentation was stopped half-way which allows the wine to maintain the clean citrus characteristics of the Renaceau vineyard. Developing notes of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla framed by just enough acidity makes this wine a perfect pairing to veal, pork tenderloin and pasta dishes with cream sauce. Drink now or cellar for 5 years.” My notes: I tasted this chardonnay during a trip to Niagara in June 2009 then more leisurely at home.  I found the texture and flavours elegantly suited for sipping or dining. Six months in the cellar has softened the ’just detectable’ French oak in the nose leaving a soft melon and citrus. Beautifully balanced acid carries delicate flavours of butterscotch, citrus and vanilla maintaining the ‘Renaceau’ character. The oak treatment comes forward during a long, fully rounded finish. An excellent sipper that would pair nicely with scallops, grilled with bacon or with a herbed risotto, not too seasoned. Will likely mature nicely up to four years.  92
FEATHERSTONE ESTATE (View It!) WINERY 'CANADIAN OAK' CHARDONNAY 2008 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Vineland, Ontario, (Map It!) 12.5% D, #Winery $22.15 (Tasted May 27, 2010)

The website says "This is our ‘feral’ Chardonnay - fermented by wild, local indigenous yeast instead of being inoculated with a commercial strain of yeast. The grapes were hand-picked and sorted and then fermentation took place in oak barrels that are made from oak trees that grew along the Grand River in Brantford, Ontario. The result is a rich and buttery wine that is truly ‘local’ in every sense of the word and represents the best of the region and the vintage."  My notes:This is a pale gold in the glass with a nose that given time to develop doesn’t. A swirl shows a thin film with fast legs confirming a lightish medium-body first sip - tangy, delicate nectarine, almond, and apple dumpling mixture unique for a chardonnay. The finish remains delicate with  a shallow roundness and ending of stone fruit - a tartness with each swallow the only point of interest. Not a solitary sipper. Have with saltines or wheat crackers or pair with mild fish dishes or a clear chicken broth - was passable with grilled steelhead salmon. A drink now.  79

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