Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chardonnay, Clams, Crab, And Other Crustaceans (Crawdads, Lobster, Shrimp) And Melted Butter

This will be my forth adventure into the wonderful world of Chardonnay wines, and again my disclaimer is that a Newbie Red-Wine drinker continues to be an even Newer-Newbie White-Wine drinker.  I hope my recommendations are helpful, or at least interesting to my readers, and I assure you that I'm taking this as a challenge. My proclivities seem to be with Chablis (France's-48th parallel-region ) and wine similar to Chablis (High acid and little or no oak); I sometimes find that the heavy Californian  Chardonnay wines to be a bit over-the-top and lacking a certain delicious factor (Maybe just over-whelming), but when I find others  that captivate me, as in the recent past, I'll be sure to let you know.

Beginning with The Big Kahuna of four Chardonnay wines bought in New Hampshire and tasted in the last month or so, is Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley 2008 Chardonnay, $26.49-$34.49, 89 points, rolls in your glass as a smelted golden  mercurial liquid. Having a bouquet of flowers and fruits (Honey suckle and "Good and Plenty" candy) .
Flavor layers of fruit, Butter-scotch, Scotch whiskey  (14.9% alcohol-go figure), and creamy anise flow into the long finish. Those who are not fans of Malolatic fermentation (malolatic acid into lactic acid-Think milk) will shy away from this wine, but like Big Red Wines, this is a Big White Wine and scored high points  (92-94) with those who should know. If you want a meal in a glass, this just might be it.

Following  The Big Kahuna is my favorite of the four, Stag's Leap Cellars Karia (Graceful character) Napa valley 2008 Chardonnay, $24.64-$32.99, 93 points, has many qualities of Chablis, but the "Karia" (Graceful character) is prevalent and unlike most Chablis wines, does have some California creaminess to it.
Karia has a crystal-clear light-golden color.
The aroma is faint Cardamom and Lemon-Zest, with some floral  character.

Karia has plenty of acidity, 0.61g/100ml, hints of granite, with citrus and pear flavors. When I think of "rich" as a descriptor, I don't think "light" in quality, but oxymoronically, in this case I do; this Chardonnay is delicate without being either weak or strained, but flavorful and wonderful.

Quality-Price-Ratio (QPR) has gone unmentioned, but now we have come to that place where the number one criteria for buying a wine comes to the fore (Price). With Chardonnay wines, like Cupcake, offering good Chardonnay at unbelievable prices, it's hard to justify paying the big-bucks for slightly better wines.
Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2008 Chardonnay maybe an exception when the cost is $14.99.
Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2008 Chardonnay, $14.99-$34.99, 87 points, had a remarkable flavor of tropical fruit and a hint of ginger on the finish. With good acidity and a nice balance of oak, this Chardonnay could have been one of my favorites, but the nose had a hint of the municipal bathroom, which was a big turn-off for me. The color was a clear straw-yellow. This wine did score some big points with the pros, but I did find it in the clearance bin, which begs the question of why. That remains unclear.

California Chardonnay  without malolatic fermentation has its own  niche, and Beaucanon Estate Ehler Lane Vineyard Napa valley 2008 Chardonnay, $15.30-$19.00, 87 points, is one them, but is mildly oaked. The color is a bit lemon-lime.
The aroma had hints of lemon and vanilla.
The medium body was smooth, but not crisp as the Chablis wines I've tried.
Though I found this Chardonnay to be a bit flat, and not a Stand-Alone-White Wine (Californian Chardonnay is often considered to be an aperitif) , it did pair well with my Lobster-roll and fish and Chips.

Earlier Chardonnay reviews: Link-1-ChippingAwayAtChardonnay


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  1. I don't know if it is in our blood, but my son had three glasses of the Karia and said "delicious!"

  2. I found this very interesting quote from Fredric Koeppel:

    ' “Um, F.K., isn’t this a matter of taste and stylistic preference?” Well, no, it isn’t. Wines such as this one (and the preceding model) are travesties that have nothing to do with the chardonnay grape, just as over-oaked, over-ripe, sweet, cloying, high-alcohol zinfandels have nothing to do with the zinfandel grape. It’s a matter of respect; if you truly respect the chardonnay grape, you don’t make a wine that smells and tastes like a combination of the dessert trolley in a continental restaurant and a lumber yard.'

    Make of it what you will!