Normally on Fridays, I publish a list of some of the samples I have collected over the course of the previous three months. While the tasting notes below are indeed samples, I decided to actually do a little more work (although only a little) and decide to pull a few with a commonality.
This week, I really taxed my cognitive ability and selected five Chardonnays. I know what you are thinking: “How clever!”
Yeah. I get that a lot.
2018 Georges Dubœuf Pouilly-Fuissé, France: Retail $35. 100% Chardonnay. Phew. This is going to be a tough one. While I did not *know* Monsieur Dubœuf by any stretch of the imagination, I did meet him several times and he at least feigned to remember me on each subsequent meeting. Georges was quite the cyclist in his youth and while we only mentioned it in passing, it was a passion for both of us. As was wine. Georges passed away shortly after the New Year and it was sad news indeed. Writing about this wine seems impertinent in that context, but Georges hailed from the Pouilly region and always produced a wine from the appellation even as his Beaujolais empire exploded in growth. Pale straw in the glass with lovely notes of white flower, lime, and tangerine. The palate is equally lovely with a racy tartness, followed by subtle fruit, and, eventually, a bit of spice. A fantastic wine by any measure. I just wish I had one more tasting with the man to look forward to. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $35. There are few wines that I look forward to tasting more than the annual release of the Jordan Chardonnay (yes, I know it was released in May–I am a bit behind). Lemon rind, Honeycrisp apple, vanilla, and just a hint of oak are all in the glass of this slightly golden wine. The palate is initially quite tart but mellows out quite quickly with layers of fruit, complexity, and minerality. This is really a fantastic wine and one of only a few Chardonnays of this quality for under $40. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Ram’s Gate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $46. 10 months in barrel (25% in new French oak) 25% Malolactic. I did a bit of scouring on the Ram’s Gate website, but I could not determine whether they were going for more of a “Burgundian” (charged term) here. Well, based on the oak regimen, I would guess “yes” and they succeed (I will not get into the whole “Burgundian” argument here). Slightly golden straw in the glass, aromas of oak (albeit subtle), lemon curd (less subtle), and baked apple (yummy). The palate is certainly rich but nicely balanced with a girding tartness and layer upon layer of depth, and a finish that lasts long after my attempt to find a more elegant synonym for “girding.” This certainly gets a Yowza and, oh what the heck? Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
These next two wines are sparkling wines, but both are essentially Chardonnays so I am counting them as part of this genius-level theme (and both were incredible wines).
1992 Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Late Disgorged, Carneros, CA: Retail $175? 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Blanc. Whoa. I received this as part of an event to celebrate the retirement of longtime Domaine Carneros winemaker and CEO Eileen Crane and the ascension of her replacement Remi Cohen. This was the recent disgorgement of the first “Le Rêve” which I drank alongside the 2012 Le Rêve (below) on a Zoom call with Eileen and Remi. Golden in the glass with notes of ginger, marzipan, lemon rind, and more than a touch of baked croissant goodness. Whoa. The palate is a tad sherried, caramelized, even musty, but holy cow is it tasty. Whoa. I can safely say that it would take far less than a fistful of fingers to count the number of American sparklers that I would rate higher than this one. Outstanding. 96 Points.
2012 Domaine Carneros Le Rêve, Carneros, CA: Retail $120. 100% Chardonnay. While there have been several Champagne houses that have found a foothold in the New World, but most of them have since changed hands. Not Domaine Carneros, it’s still owned and operated by Taittinger, and the wines not only have maintained their excellence, they have, in my opinion, only gotten better. While I have not tasted every vintage of Le Rêve, I have had quite a few, and this 2012 is right up there with those I have tried. Whoa. Golden apple, pear, acacia flower, and a bit of lemon rind on the nose. Yowza. The palate is initially quite tart but softens almost immediately as the sparkle begins to subside. Fruity (citrus, pineapple), yeasty, toasty (but short of burnt). The finish starts with tart fruit, then evolves into a creamy crème brulée, which lasts for minutes. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.