Tag Archives: chardonnay

White Burgundy and Red Northern Rhone wine reviews

Today, we are going to explore a bit more of France. 

On these pages, we’ve gone to Bourdeaux and France is mentioned quite a bit, but we’ve yet to get into Burgundy or anywhere close to Rhone.. so here we are. There’s obviously a lifetime of wines to explore in each of these areas alone, and many a person will spend that much time exploring everything they can in any one of them. I’d love to have that kind of dedication to a specific area, and maybe someday I will. But for now, I’m still getting my feet wet (or palate wet.. or, more to the point, myself drunk) in the wide world of wine.

Anyway, I was quite excited to pick up these wines and see what some of these regions have to offer. The issue much of the time with any of the wines of France seems to be price and getting good quality for said price; Cost of admission and all that. These are certainly not the cheapest wines on the market. They’re definitely not anywhere near the high end of the price spectrum either, but they are good quality. And that’s what matters.

In my studies so far, I’ve read quite a bit about Burgundy. It’s fascinating, and so vastly different from how things are done in the rest of France. Worth a read for sure to get a handle on how they do things there. Rhone on the other hand, I’ve yet to get to. So other than there being a Northern and a Southern portion, I know very little. Tonights red wine is a 100% Syrah from Northern Rhone, and a good one at that.

So without further ado, on to the wines…

 

Pouilly-Fuisse’ – Louis Jadot 2012 (White Burgundy) – 13% alc – Burgundy, France – about $24

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If you see a White wine from Burgundy, you pretty much know it’s Chardonnay. That’s what they do (and their reds are generally Pinot Noir). They almost own the grape (although California seems to be trying to steal it from them…). There’s a lot of quality wine to be had, and some not so good. We’ll take a look at this one from Pouilly-Fuisse’, which incidentally, is fun to say (pooh-ee phwee-zay is my approximate phonetic attempt).

It pours a light, not quite golden, yellow. Smells nutty with a little bit of tropical fruits (namely pineapple) and a hint of peppery spice. I swear as time wore on I got some lovely hints of caramel and penuche, which brought about many a remembrance of growing up in Western PA making Penuche with my mom and stirring the pot of fudge on the cold tile floor. (We had to move the pot from tile to tile to help cool the fudge as we stirred to make it harden faster. A fun but tiring exercise where the reward for your efforts was the lovely, buttery, caramelly goodness that is penuche. If you’ve never had it, get some.. or better yet, make some for yourself.)

The taste is nicely balanced between a subtle sweetness and acidity. Fruit and nut bouquet. Light flowery perfume. Light vanilla as well. 

Mouthfeel is light to medium in body. Low drying. Refreshing but not too. Really nice for a white winter wine. 

Finish is medium in length. Flowers and nuts with light fruit. 

Nothing offensive. Nicely balanced. Not too assertive, but not exactly contemplative. Good though. Worth it?  I think so.

YES.

 

Domaine du Colombier – Cuvee Gaby Crozes-Hermitage 2011 – 13% alc – Northern Rhone, France – about $30

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Ok, I’m going to give it away right in the beginning. YES. Like go-buy-this-right-now-don’t-even-bother-reading-this-review, holy crap this is good, YES. Actually, now that I’m thinking of it, yeah you probably should at least read the review. If for no other reason than to decide if this is your cup o’ tea or not. I can see certain aspects of this wine turning some people off. So…

Pours a deep dark purple. Inky. Awesome. Feels heavy in the glass. 

The first thing I noticed in the smell was meat. Game. Earth. Spices, more specifically pepper and cinnamon. That cinnamon element is fascinating. And then the dark dark fruits; mostly plums. 

Taste is a wonderful balance of meat and plummy dark fruit. Then come waves of baking spices, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg. It’s like a damn baking cabinet with the cabinet itself broken into kindling and thrown in for good measure. Not a ton of oak is noticeable but it’s there. Again. Balance. It’s balanced in it’s unbalanced fruity beauty. Hard to describe (apparently) but definitely not messing around.

Mouthfeel is big. Full bodied. But not a huge smack in the face. More like a plush, velvety, bigness. Awesome.

Finish is complex and long. Ever changing. Hits all the notes above and more. Goes on forever. 

Worth it. Every penny. 

YES.

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California makes Chardonnay. This one’s pretty good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not usually a Chardonnay drinker, which is precisely why I bought one. There’s quite a range of flavors you can get out of a Chardonnay; dry, buttery, oaky, sweet, tropical, and probably some others. 

I’ll get to where this one stands below..

For now I’m gonna take a side quest to talk about serving temps (feel free to skip to the review if you don’t care about what is to follow..).

Red wines I’ll generally just serve at the temperature they’re stored at. Some would say that’s a smidge too warm but I’ve had good luck with it so far. Whites I’ll usually pull from the fridge and open up and go. I read something interesting the other day alluding to most people drinking white wines too cold so that got me thinking I’d try something different.

So for this guy I put it in the fridge for a bit, then opened it and gave it some time. I like it; works pretty good. Nothing too crazy or mind blowing here. Just leave the bottle out after you serve a white wine that was chilled until you’re ready to call it a night.. more or less.

Anyway, let’s talk about sex. Oh shit. Wine… That song just popped in my head randomly.

 

Mt Eden Vineyards – 2011 Edna Valley Chardonnay – 13.8% alc – Central Coast, California – about $20

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This wine was aged in assorted barrels for 8 months.  Assume all tasting notes are referring to both Day 1 and Day 2 unless otherwise noted.

Poured a pale straw yellow color. Reminded me of many Berlinerweisse beers or possibly an Ardbeg 10 year Scotch. Yup. So there’s that.

On the nose I got tropical fruit first, followed by a slight buttery note. The alcohol heat was extremely well hidden. Hints of vanilla, honey and a dash of ginger came a little later. Almost a floral perfume-y smell popped up every other whiff or so. Eventually candied dried pineapples and maybe apricots. Very nice complexity if you look for it.

The taste was initially sweet. Then the acidity hits you. Dry without FEELING dry. Pretty cool. I’d say this is definitely on the sweeter side of Chardonnays in my limited experience with them. The buttery note (and really it’s just a whisper on Day 1) wafts every so gently under the tropical fruits. The dried fruit flavors hit hardest after the initial tropical juicy pineapple blasts, and that spice sneaks in there a little as well.

Mouthfeel is a solid medium. Nice refreshing consistency. At first I thought it would be better suited to cooler nights such as these we’re enjoying now (well not so much enjoying as we are experiencing, really…), but then it occurred to me this would work really well on a cool summer evening with some friends on a back porch. Probably with chicken or even a bowl of homemade popcorn. At least, this kind of made me crave popcorn…

The finish is also of medium length and pretty warming (in a creep-up-the-back-of-your-throat-after-you-swallow kind of way). Biggest thing that lingers after you swallow is the candied fruit flavors and vanilla with that little hit of ginger spices. after 15 seconds or so there’s a lingering nutty/biscuity flavor as well. Day 2 brought buttered then eventually caramel covered popcorn to the finish line.

So. $20. Refreshing. Complex. Good overall. Buy it if you see it, especially if it’s on sale.

YES