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the wine gent

THE EVER CHANGING FACE OF CHARDONNAY!

Chardonnays, in recent years, have not been taken very seriously by many people. The trend of over-oaking the wines or making them cloyingly sweet have truly marred a wonderfully complex grape. Part of the problem is that many winemakers have been trying to follow trends versus their true hearts. You can make a lean Chardonnay that drinks like a Pinot Grigio or you can add oak chips to the barrel to make it so woody that the wonderful fruit characteristics of the grape are overwhelmed (not to mention the food you are having with the wine). Stylistically, if you enjoy those wines then that is what you look for, but my goal is finding one that has pure balance…..enough fruit, good acidity, and light to medium hints of oak. I don’t want to pull splinters from my tongue!

Chardonnay is grown around the world and is one of the easier and adaptive grape varietals to work with. The region of Burgundy produces some of the most expensive and beautifully complex Chardonnays in the world (White Burgundy). If you have an opportunity to spend a few extra bucks, White Burgundies can be an “out of body experience.” Other areas where Chardonnay grows very well are California, Australia, Long Island, and Washington State. The group of Chardonnays I’ve chosen contains a good variety of styles, but all the styles maintain one key aspect: balance!

Rosemount Chardonnay 2004:
The Rosemount Chardonnay Diamond Series is Rosemount’s entry level Chardonnay. This Chard from Down Under has always been well-priced and quite consistent. It has tropical fruit and melon flavors. It shows a generous hint of citrus zest flavors and has a fair amount of oak, allowing it to become creamy and structured with a nice long finish. It has a very amicable all around balance. This wine will go well with seafood, salads, and is so bold it can handle rich meat dishes as well. Priced nicely at $8.99

Red Bicyclette 2003 Chardonnay:
This is an interesting wine! This is the Gallo owned winery from France. They decided to take advantage of the large output and good quality from France to produce some very enjoyable bistro style wines for America. This wine has very nice notes of apple and pear both on the nose and moutfeel. Very light hints of vanilla oak allow this to be an enjoyable sipper which goes great with light fare, lunch, or a friendly get-together. It is well priced at $11.99

St. Francis 2003 Sonoma County Chardonnay:
This effort from one of the long lasting and reputable California Producers is excellent. It has rich notes of butterscotch and expresses the classic varietal very nicely. It has hints of fruit and melon along with a balanced amount of vanilla oak and toast. This is an example of a wine that is blended from oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. It gives us the best of both worlds. It also has a nice creaminess that is driven from the maloactic fermentation process. This wine has a great balance of fruit, acidity, and oak for a full-bodied Chardonnay. The price is also fair and balanced at $13.99

Lenz "Silver Label" Chardonnay 2002:
Another solid effort from the Lenz Winery on the North Fork of Long Island. This is a true "White Burgundy Villages" style wine. It has hints of fruit and does dance lively on the palate, yet displays a more mature side, offering some complexities and elegance from the oak that we find in many White Burgundies. This is a true hit with all types of lighter to medium seafoods and meat dishes. This wine prices at $22.99

Cheers!

John Farrell
The Wine Gent