On May 24, 1976, 47 years ago, the Paris Wine Tasting aka the Judgment of Paris, set California wines free or disrespect by determining that select California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon compare favorably with those from France. Organized by Steven Spurrier and Patricia Gallagher, French judges tasted blind Chardonnay from France and California, and Bordeaux wines with Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California. When a Napa wine ranked best in both, history and California’s reputation was set– and the subject of the 2008 Hollywood movie Bottleshock was born (trailer below). (See also my article on Judgement of Paso.)
Then in 2010, Rick Bakas created and promoted Chardonnay Day as a social media holiday for the Thursday before Memorial Day, creating a great opportunity to focus on the gifts of Chardonnay from around the world. This year, that day is Thursday, May 25. National Wine Day is Weds May 24– so you might as well drink Chardonnay that day too!
This year for Chardonnay Day, and with a nod toward the Judgement of Paris, the French #Winophiles group of wine writers explore French Chardonnay or compare them–maybe even in a blind tasting; see links below. Chardonnay is one of the most grown white wine grapes around the world, and possibly the most popular, especially with wines from France, California and Oregon.
Here at Wine Predator, we decided to feature France (of course!), plus one from Oregon to celebrate Oregon Wine Month (find activities here) and one from — SURPRISE –Czech Republic!–all paired with a fresh spring mushroom chard herb white lasagna (recipe below). We love comparing wines from various regions, and we have done this a number of times over the years for Chardonnay. So far we haven’t tasted them blind! Maybe next year…
Three Chardonnay Wines
- 2021 Thaya Chardonnay, Moravia, Czech Republic $20
- 2021 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Cote d’Or Chardonnay $30
- 2019 Nysa Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, OR $65
Stay tuned for more about Nysa Pinot Noir!
Menu for Chardonnay
- Cheese Plate:
Mushroom Brie, Pate, Double Brie, Dijon Herb Fontal, Mole Salami, Herbed Nuts and olives
- Green salad
with raspberries, herbed nuts, dijon fontal, mole salami slivers (from the cheese board)
- Chard Mushroom Herb White Lasagna (recipe below)
2021 Thaya Chardonnay, Moravia, Czech Republic
sample for my review
We were so thrilled earlier this month with Thaya’s Moscato that when Sheila Donohue offered us a sample of the Thaya Chardonnay for our Chardonnay post, we said YES enthusiastically. Thaya estate winery is farmed organically in South Moravia, Czech Republic, just north of the Austrian border in the town of Znojmo. As head winemaker, Jakub Smrcka makes wines as naturally as possible with native yeast fermentation, with some steel fermented and some oak aged.
This was our favorite wine this evening, great for sipping as well as with food. However, that’s because it’s in our wheelhouse of wines we love without food– bright acidity, unoaked. Because it is unoaked, it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges with the other two wines.
Appearance: Very pale, like hay, yellow a bit of green
Aroma: I love it, meadow, fresh, chamomile, lemon, citrus blossom, green apple,
Palate: Pretty tasty, very tart green apple, lemon curd, clean and refreshing, bold acidity, long lingering granny smith apple finish.
Pairing: While artichokes are difficult to pair with most wines, this wine is so similar to the acidity and green intensity of Italian wines that we both wanted it with artichokes. Asparagus is as equally difficult to pair with wines and this wine went perfectly with the asparagus in the lasagna. It brings out all of the bright fresh flavors in both the meal and the wine.
This is not only a fabulous wine on its own, it is a fantastic, affordable, and versatile food wine as well.
2021 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Cote d’Or Chardonnay
purchased at WineHouse LA
Most white wine from Bourgogne (Burgundy) is pricey; Paul Pernot makes plenty of those too. But you can find some less expensive ones too, like this one!
Appearance: Pale gold, gold jewelry
Aroma: Butterscotch, Ponderosa pine, butterscotch, vanilla, not sweet like candy, but the essense, meadow freshness, spring like, apple blossom, ripe freshly picked apples
Palate: There is a nice rich toastiness to the wine, tart lemon, green apple, minerals, silex, flinty textural element, this is not a style of wine that we like to just sit and sip, it is a wine that we know is amazing with rich creamy foods.
Pairing: This is a rich wine that works well with rich foods. Our salad had a number of rich complex flavors from the dijon fontonell to the mole salami and the rich herbed nuts as well as the tart raspberries. It was a perfect accompanient to the wine. The wine love, love, loves the herbs in the lasagne.
2019 Nysa Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, OR
sample for my review
Dry farmed organically, Nysa uses no chemical pesticides. Located at 600-720 feet elevation in the Dundee Hills of Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley on volcanic Jory soil with basalt bedrock 8 to 12 feet below the surface, clay in Nysa’s vineyards hold moisture late into the season allowing them to dry farm. Of their 40 acres, 33 are cultivated and 11 acres remain of oak savannah and fields. Nysa began making its first wines in 2004, and the winery’s case production is still under 1,000. Read more about Nysa when we feature their Pinot Noir next week for Oregon Wine Month! However, this weekend if you’re near Dundee, Nysa Vineyard offers a special vertical flight of Leda’s Reserve Pinot noir from vintages of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 plus tasting of their new spring release wines as well, including sparkling wine. Lots more of fun activities all over Oregon for Oregon Wine Month worth checking out.
Appearance: Pale straw, platinum rim
Aroma: Fennel, anise, tart lemon, lemon blossom, minerals, fresh, fun, inviting nose.
Palate: Fresh pineapple, clean, tart acidity, lemon, toast, coconut, kettle corn at the back of the palate.
Pairing: The richness of the wine loves the richness of the white lasagne. The herbasiousness of the lasagne is so great with the herbal wine. All of the fresh herbs just dance with the wine. The sage really stands out and responds. What a fantastic pairing.
So how do the three compare in our Judgement of Chardonnay? They are all so different, it depends what you are looking for! The Nysa definitely stands out compared to the French Chardonnay because it’s just a higher quality wine. And the Thaya does too because it is just a very different fresh style, and while it goes great with this dish, overall for a rich meal, you’d be better off with the Nysa.
Chard Mushroom Herb Lasagne
For the Béchamel Sauce
- 4 T butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
- 1 tsp fine sea or table salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
For the Filling
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ C frozen peas
- 1 C fresh herbs (we used parsley, sage, nasturtium, basil), finely chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced, sauteed in butter
- 8 oz or 8 cups fresh chard, chopped
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 32 oz whole-milk ricotta (about 4 cups)
- 1½ C grated Parmesan
- ¾ C grated Pecorino Romano
- 12 oz dried lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles)
- 8 oz whole-milk mozzarella, thinly sliced
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter.
Prepare the béchamel:
In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once melted, add flour and whisk until combined. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until pale golden. Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, so that the sauce does not clump. Add the salt, nutmeg and bay leaf. Gently bring to a simmer and let cook for 9 to 12 minutes, whisking often, until the béchamel is thick but still pourable. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan and grated garlic, and taste, adding more salt if needed.
While the béchamel is cooking, prepare filling:
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 T olive oil. Let heat until it thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the asparagus and sauté, shaking the pan, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a bowl, stir in frozen peas and 2 tablespoons herbs. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat about 30 seconds, then add fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon salt. Add chard and remaining herbs, working in batches if needed, and sauté until the greens are very tender and the pan is very dry, about 10 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more salt as needed. Add mixture to a large bowl. Stir in ricotta and ¾ cup each Parmesan and pecorino.
Remove bay leaf from béchamel.
Ladle sauce into the bottom of the baking pan until just covered. Place as many noodles as will fit on top of the béchamel, breaking or cutting them to fit in one layer. Ladle more béchamel on noodles to cover.
Add half of the ricotta mixture, spreading evenly, then sprinkle half of the asparagus-pea mixture on top.
Add another layer of noodles, then béchamel, then the remaining ricotta mixture, then the remaining asparagus-pea mixture. Top with sliced mozzarella.
Add a third and final layer of noodles; cover with remaining béchamel. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan.
Cover the pan with foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling on top. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
In hind sight Sue felt that the cup of mixed fresh herbs was a bit overwhelming in the lasagne and if she were to re-do it, she would have only used 1/4 cup of the sage. In contrast, I thought it was a bit boring and wasn’t bothered by the herbs. Marshall found it delicious and he was grateful there were a generous amount of leftovers because he has a broken foot. Too bad my son Reed wasn’t around because he would have devoured this!
Winophiles Chardonnay Day + Anniversary of Judgement in Paris
- “A Tale of Two Chardonnays: From France’s Pays d’Oc and California’s Russian River Valley” from Camilla at Culinary Cam
- “No to Chardonnay? Don’t Be So Judgy!” from Cathie at Side Hustle Wino
- “Chardonnay: Old World vs New World in Today’s World” from Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm
- “Chardonnay Unites Us More than Divides” from Susannah at Avinnare
- “How to Think About the 1976 Judgement of Paris in 2023” from Jeff at Food Wine Click
- Gwendolyn is sharing a food and wine pairing at Wine Predator
- “Chardonnay Day with Domaine Charton-Vachet Montagny Cuvee” from Deanna at Wineivore
Ooh I’m so intrigued by the Chardonnay from the Czech Republic and the lasagna sounds amazing! Crawling through the interwebs so get a taste!
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Yes, super interesting to Sue and I, but not to everyone’s taste for sure as so many will prefer the other style we wrote about that’s much richer.
I don’t think I have ever had a wine from the Czech Republic. How interesting!
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It is really interesting! and affordable!
The Czech wine stands out for me, lean and pristine. And the Leda richness… some lees aging on it? I’ll have to enjoy OR wine month activities through you!
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It is a stand out — for that style, as are the other two for their style and price point.
I am loving this comparison of the Chardonnay from different regions and throwing a Czech wine into the mix. Nice find! A white lasagna too sounds so nice for springtime and with fresh herbs to pair with the wine. So good!