Weekly Wino: If loving Chardonnay is wrong, I don’t want to be right


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.

bighead-150x150In 2003, Texas native Tracie Branch moved to southern Italy to pursue her passion for Italian food and wine. Her “ex-pat” blog, My Life Italian, quickly became one of the blogosphere’s most popular destinations for Italophile foodies and wine lovers. In 2007, she returned to Texas and began working for Glazer’s in Austin, Texas, as an on-premise sales rep in March 2008. She became a Society of Wine Educators “Certified Specialist of Wine” in June 2008.

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