The Grape Divide
Chardonnay is one of the most low maintenance grapes to grow, is adaptive to a wide range of climates and is relatively neutral in flavor and can be manipulated to accommodate a wide variety of flavors. No wonder it is the USA’s number one selling varietal. So for fun we had a little taste testing; Alice and Don (my mother and father) Kim and me. We sampled two bottles of similar price range…about $50 bucks each. One from the origin of Chardonnay, Burgundy France and one from the acclaimed Napa Valley region of California. Both bottles were chosen as true representative samples of each region.
Here is how it went:
Mum – “Sure is better than the cloudy bubbly stuff we had from the carafe at lunch”
Dad – “You Beaut”
Dad – “sure a lot of pear”
Mum – “You swallowed a hair?”
Kim – “are you OK Don”? “what's it mean when I feel it in the middle of my mouth”
Dad – “yes I am fine…I TASTE PEAR, I didn’t swallow a hair”
“OK, OK, lets start over. Just tell me what you taste”.
Dad – “I still taste pear”
Kim – “Minerals, I taste minerals, kind of a flinty taste”
Mum – “Flinty, How do you know what flint tastes like…did you put a light in your mouth at one point?”
Kim – “Of course not, it just tastes what I imagine flint tastes like”
Mum – “that’s just strange. I smell flowers however. It is actually pretty nice. Smooth, crisp and has a nice finish, I like it”
Dad – “I taste pear”
Kim – “I really like it, is there any more?”
So… on it went until that bottle was gone; we proceeded to Bottle two;
Kim – “ew, it’s oily”. I think I need a cracker.
Mum – “it’s so strong and buttery”. “I would drink it if that’s all there was”.
Dad – “hmmm, I like this one”
Kim – “It tastes like an oily Heath bar to me”
Mum – “is there any more of bottle one?”
Dad – “this is damn good, I’m a fan of this one”
Kim – “I don’t like this one at all, maybe I should not have eaten that piece of “Dentyne Ice”. “Oh look at the time, we have dinner reservations, we gotta go”.
That’s about how it ended, a million laughs and great fun but my guess is Madame LeRoy will not be inviting us over to review her next Grand Cru Burgundy bottling… She has no idea what she will be missing J Bottom line is this. Both of these wines were excellent. The Chablis was bright, floral with mineral and citrus tones with a very crisp finish. The Napa was thick, opulent, loaded with oak and toffee and had a tremendously long finish. Same grape, two completely different experiences; which one is better, entirely up to you, I liked them both; More importantly I liked the fun we had tasting them together.
Here are the bottles;
Red Shoulder Ranch
2009 Carneros Chardonnay
Life is really short ... have a great time with the wine!