It’s time for the next instalment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time we dove into the world of Viognier and now it’s time for the final entry, in which we get to know possibly the more versatile grape there is: Chardonnay.
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
Let’s start with where Chardonnay is originally from. Are you ready? I’ll give you two guesses, but you’ll only need one.
You guessed it – FRANCE!
Burgundy, to be specific. The land of Chablis, possibly the most revered Chard to ever Chard. Chablis is often bone dry and unoaked with bright acidity and a big dose of minerality thanks to the sheer volume of fossils hanging out in Burgundy soil.
But that’s not the only kind of Chardonnay out there. Head to California and Chardonnay usually becomes super oaky and full bodied with juicy tropical fruit. Head to cooler climates like Niagara and Tasmania and you get citrus fruit. And then there’s all the beautiful sparkling wines that Chardonnay can do. Champagne, anyone?
Possibly the coolest thing about Chardonnay is that the grape vine can pretty much grow anywhere. If grapes can grow there, you can grow Chard. I personally believe that this is the reason why many of the newer wine regions have so much Chardonnay in them. If you’re just starting out you’d want to start with a surer bet, right? And there isn’t really a more sure bet that Chardonnay when it comes to trustworthy grapes.
The Test Case
Today’s test case is the barrel fermented Chardonnay from Chateau des Charmes (the link shows the 2016 version but I’m trying the 2015 for this post).
The versatility of Chardonnay made it kind of hard to choose a wine to try. In the end I decided to taste a local Ontario wine, mostly to continue to try and prove that these wines are great quality. I’ve had this Chardonnay before and remember liking it, so I’m looking forward to re-trying it to see if it lives up to my slightly hazy memory.
Wine Searcher says this wine is tropical and balanced but the LCBO website says it’s full-bodied and rich. These two things don’t really go together so it’ll be interesting to see what it’s really all about.
- The colour is a really nice medium straw colour. It’s got some oomph, even if I my photography skills still struggle at capturing the colour of white wines (new year’s resolution, perhaps?)
- I think Wine Searcher wins, this wine’s nose is definitely tropical. Pineapple and mango (both fruit and blossom) hang out there, along with a bit of creaminess that makes me wonder if the wine has a bit of MLF.
- The creaminess follows through on the palate, giving this wine a very welcome mellowness.
- I also get more pineapple and mango, along with a bit of white pepper and some white flowers (honeysuckle maybe?).
- Being fermented in barrel is probably what gives this wine a medium (or full?) body and a decent amount of weight.
This wine, man. It is yum-my. Great fruit, nice creaminess, good oomph on the palate. The fuller body definitely helps on this chilly December eve. Long story short – you need to try this wine. ESPECIALLY if you don’t drink a lot of wine from Ontario.
And with that, we finally (finally!) finish the Noble Grape Challenge. Stay tuned for some wrap up and final thoughts on the whole shebang in the new year.