Around the World With Chardonnay: 5 Wines, 5 Countries, 5 Continents #ChardonnayDay 2020

Chardonnay is made– and made well– around the world; here are representatives from Europe/France, Africa/So. Africa, Oceania, Australia, South America/Argentina, and North America/Oregon. Scroll down for tasting and pairing notes.

Just because we have to shelter in place at home doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Chardonnay Day May 21 because all you need is a bottle of Chardonnay to do it! And doesn’t everyone have at least ONE bottle of Chardonnay in cellar if not in the fridge?

Or you can do like we did and celebrate it by traveling literally around the world from home here in North America to taste wine from five countries on five continents!

Back in 2011, Elaine Chukan Brown of Wakawaka Wine Reviews drew this informative illustration about Chardonnay:

As Elaine points out, versatile Chardonnay is a neutral wine that expresses both climate and winemaking choices. In hot California, it is often made in oak and with a lot of malolactic fermentation, so Chardonnay is very buttery with vanilla, caramel, spice, and even smoke. In Oregon, which is a cooler, and where the tendency isn’t toward ML and heavy oak, Chardonnay has a different expression. It’s also going to change depending on when it is picked — earlier with less ripeness and less subsequent alcohol or later when it is ripe and rich.

Recently Sue and I tasted and compared five different Chardonnay from five different countries on five different continents:

  • France
  • South Africa
  • Australia’s Margaret River
  • South America’s Argentina
  • North America’s Oregon

We finished off in California’s Sonoma Coast with a dessert wine made from Chardonnay. We had three wines from the southern hemisphere and three wines from the northern.

Menu

  • Cheese plate
  • Salmon Egg Rolls
  • Shrimp Scampi
  • Strawberry Salad

Let’s start off in Europe–France’s Burgundy which is really a touchstone when it comes to Chardonnay:

2017 Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages –
13% alcohol SRP under $20
I think I bought this wine at Wine House LA.

Adopting a biological and biodynamic approach, Joseph Drouhin uses only natural products in the vineyards, and all procedures respect the soil, the vine and the environment. Read more about their viticultural practices here.

Color: Pale lemon

Nose: Lemon, anise, caraway, fennel, oak.

Palate: Very nice mouthfeel, lemon, not a whole lot of oak, creaminess. Classic expression of Chardonnay.

Pairing: Really good with the salmon egg rolls, great with the an aged gouda with the salty crunchy bits in the cheese. Fantastic with potato chips as well. Fantastic with the fresh greens and berry salad, when followed by the buttery shrimp scampi, it is absolutely fabulous. Made us think about how great a buerre blanc over salmon would be with this wine.

TRY: Shrimp scampi or salmon with beurre blanc

From Burgundy, let’s move south into Africa, and from spring to fall, and on down to South Africa’s Cape Hope for a very Burgundian wine:

2018 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay
13% alcohol SRP: $35
sample for my review consideration 

Color: Nice light yellow

Nose: Fresh, lemony mint, lemon pith, a bit of petrol but it is not overwhelming.

Palate: I had to warm my palate up and change glasses to truly enjoy this wine. It delivers better in an oaked chardonnay glass; it needs a bit of bowl to move around in. I’d love to see this wine with some more age on it!

Pairing Because of the buttery richness of this wine, Sue went straight for the potato chips, and it was a great pair. Helen would call this a chubby wine that can take on rich fatty foods. There is a really interesting level of complexity with this wine and the salmon egg rolls. The wine loves the strawberries in the green salad adding a lovely brightness to the wine. Butter, shrimp, pasta, wine, yum.

TRY: Rich fatty foods like shrimp scampi.

 

Moving east around the globe from South Africa, we arrive in Oceania, specifically Western Australia’s Margaret River:

2017 Vasse Felix Chardonnay Margaret River
12.5% alcohol
sample for my review consideration

Never heard of Margaret River? This up and coming region has only had vines for 50 years when grape growing began at Vasse Felix in 1967.

Keep celebrating Chardonnay day on Friday by joining Vasse Felix for a “Cabin Fever Friday Wine Bar” featuring Julian Langworthy and Andrew Bretherton of Deep Woods Estate, along with Vasse Felix Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock and Estate Sommelier Evan Gill. More info here: https://m.facebook.com/events/232102968089697/?event_time_id=232102974756363

Color: Very, very pale lemon, lemon pith

Nose: Green apple, very expressive on the nose with a bit of baking spice; Sue found oak, vanilla, and grass.

Palate: Granny smith apple, caramel apple, oak but not a butter bomb because of the bright acidity. Long finish with silty minerals on the back end.

Pairing: This wine wants rich foods to tame the acidity and bring out the fruit. Great with the earthiness of the green salad, and plays well with the bright tart in the berries. Best though, with the creamy buttery shrimp scampi meal. This is a wine that wants creamy buttery richness. Be fun to try it with oysters or a ceasar salad.

TRY: Shrimp scampi

Continuing around the globe east, we find ourselves on the other side of the Andes in South America’s Mendoza, Argentina which is much more famous for its Malbec:

2018  Santa Julia  Chardonnay  Mendoza Argentina –
14% alcohol SRP $15
sample for my review consideration

Santa Julia pays attention to the triple bottom line– people, planet, profit:

“We are convinced that the wine does not come only from the land, the climate, or the variety, rather that it is fundamentally the expression of the sum of people that intervene in the process of creating it.”

While not all of their wines are made organically like this one is, all are made with the triple bottom line in mind, and they clearly recognize the importance of every hand that contributes to the process of growing the grapes and making the wine. Read more about their ecological and social vision here.

Color: Pale lemon

Nose: Petrol and sulphur, hot springs, lemon.

Palate: Bright tart and acidic, lemon, pineapple, light oak, gentle tannins, this is not a sophisticated wine, but it is appealing. Fresh, light and lively. Great restaurant wine. I really like the acidity making it a great wine for those who like bright acidic wines.

Pairing: Surprinsgly, we did not like this with the egg rolls but it really loves salt: fantastic with the salt cured olives and great with our Kalamata olive bread topped with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Not so good with the strawberry salad; it needs a Ceasar salad, something lemony and creamy. Excellent with the shrimp scampi. We also thought this wine would go great with the decadence of scallops.

TRY: Ceasar salad, scallops.

Leaving the southern hemisphere behind, we travel to North America to find int the US, Oregon’s Willamette Valley:

2016  Welsh Family Wines Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.6% alcohol SRP $20
sample for my review consideration 

With dry-farmed fruit from vineyards from different AVAs in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Welsh uses native yeasts and minimal cellar interventions.

At $20, this hand crafted Chardonnay is a great value.

Color: Lemon, pale buttercup

Nose: Lemon curd, baked apple, apple pie, buttery on the nose,

Palate: Lemon mint tea, lemonade with a sprig of mint, distinctive herbal quality

Pairing: Super fun with the salmon egg rolls with the sweet tart teriyaki sauce, and the creamy richness of the salmon. It went well with the oily richness of the potato chips, but the flavor profile did not make the wine sing. I did not like this wine at all with the kalamata olive bread with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes. This wine screamed for the fresh strawberries in the green salad. It was so fantastic.

TRY: Strawberry salad

Because Sue had a late harvest Chardonnay, there’s a bonus wine from North America!

No. America, US: California’s Sonoma Coast
2017 Fort Ross Late Harvest Chardonnay Seaview Sonoma Coast
12% alcohol
Sue bought this wine from the winery.

Only 25 cases produced made from grapes affected by Bortytis. Overall the winery prides itself on taking a minimalist approach.

“I’m not trying to make a style. Fort Ross Vineyard is the style. The fruit lends a certain weight and depth to the wine while the cool climate produces the beauty and elegance,” says Jeff Pisoni, Winemaker.

He uses native yeasts, and wines are unfined and unfiltered.

Color: Golden, true buttercup

Nose: Orange fruit and orange blossom, like being in an orange orchard when in bloom. There is also a bit of clove as in when you make an orange clove, honeysuckle

Palate: Orange blossom pixie tangerine and meyer lemon.

Pairing: Even though technically a dessert wine, this wine was fantastic with the fresh greens and berry salad because it has so much acidity to balance the sweetness. Our favorite pairing of the evening was this wine and the pineapple upside down cake that Myr made.

TRY: Pineapple upside down cake.

 

2 thoughts on “Around the World With Chardonnay: 5 Wines, 5 Countries, 5 Continents #ChardonnayDay 2020

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