For this month's tasting, we switched our focus to white wines and to those from made from Chardonnay from "cooler" climates. If you were lucky enough to be at our June 2017 event "An Evening with Thomas Bachelder" tasting cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, you'll know what a treat was in store.
This Chardonnay tasting was lead by Paul deCampo from Southbrook Winery who gave a very informative introduction to the Chardonnay grape, it's suitability to growing here in Ontario and what to expect from the wide variety of regions and styles on the menu.
We had eight wines from six different wine regions. From Niagara we had two wines: Southbrook’s Poetica Chardonnay 2013 and Stratus’ Chardonnay 2014. From Prince Edward County we tasted Norman Hardie Cuvée des Amis 2015. There was one wine from the Margaret River region of Australia - Robert Oatley’s The Pennant Margaret River Chardonnay 2012. From Sonoma we tried Scribe’s Carneros Chardonnay 2014. Our round the world journey also included the Tara White Wine Chardonnay 2014 from Chile’s Atacama Valley. Of course a cool climate Chardonnay tasting would not have been complete without a couple of wines from Chablis and from this region our line included Chablis Fourchaume 2015 1er Cru and Domaine Servin Bougros Grand Cru Chablis 2013.
Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2013 (Niagara) $50
“Southbrook's excellent 2013 Poetica chardonnay perfectly captures the richer style of Ontario chardonnay for which the warm Four Mile Creek sub-appellation is so well-suited, yet at the same time, retains all of the elegance and grace of the province's best. There's a fine savoury-botanical edge, reminiscent of dried chamomile and mint, alongside the nutty-hazelnut/marzipan/salted caramel of deft oxidative ageing in wood (70% new, though you'd be hard pressed to guess so high a percentage). Acids crackle beneath the raft of ripe orchard fruit, keeping it buoyant, and driving the finish home, the long way. This is the best yet from Ann Sperling, a terrific wine, tiptoeing between elegance and richness.” John Sazbo. 93 points.
Stratus Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara) $49
“2014 yielded a curious chardonnay from Stratus, with a nose more reminiscent of late-harvest semillon, with candied citrus and dried orange peel, alongside some resinous wood and slightly drying, bitter finish. Alcohol comes across as a bit boozy at the end as well (13.5% declared), and acids a touch hard. Perhaps a little more bottle age will improve balance, but I'm not betting long on this - it will likely remain a rather rustic expression all in all.” John Sazbo. 88 points.
Norman Hardie - Cuvée des Amis Chardonnay 2015 (PEC) $80
“The 2015 vintage was recently released and professional reviews of this vintage are not available. Respected wine critic Ian D’Agata wrote that in his opinion Hardie’s Les Amis is the “wine that best showcases the characteristics of Prince Edward County’s unique terroir.” John Sazbo rated the 2014 vintage 94 points and commented “this is showing particularly austere and tight at the moment, a marvellously lean, chiselled and firm wine, crackling with energy and life. Wood is beautifully integrated, and while the 2014 county chardonnay (from 750ml) is showing a touch of honeyed development, this is amazingly pure and stony, fully based on tart citrus and grapefruit, and wet stones. Exceptional length and depth.” John Sazbo. 94 points.
Robert Oatley - The Pennant Margaret River Chardonnay 2012 (AU) $72
“Gleaming straw-green; a high quality chardonnay that is ageing with grace, still fresh as a daisy with years to go before reaching its zenith. The bouquet is decidedly complex, the palate with grapefruit zest and precise acidity drawing out its length and aftertaste.” James Halliday Wine Companion. 97 points.
Scribe Winery - Chardonnay Carneros 2014 (Sonoma) $56
“Scribe's is a wine that has succeeded in mastering the oxidation process and the scents are of ripe peach, fresh, without overdeveloped sugars but instead a sprinkling of ocean salt. Finishes with a savoury mix of lime, tonic and the liquor of distilled flowers.” Michael Godel. 92 points.
Tara White Wine 1 Chardonnay 2014 (Chile) $54
“The 2014s were just bottled, so I got to taste them next to the 2013s. The 2014 White Wine 1 Chardonnay is a little less cloudy than the 2013, and is perhaps more expressive, complex and fresher, with more intensity, more vertical. This is completely different to any other Chardonnay from Chile and in fact I believe the imprint from the place is stronger than the varietal, which can hardly be discerned in some bayleaf and nut hints. The palate is really supple, in an austere way, reflecting the rocky and stony soil where the vines are planted. Groundbreaking white. 2,310 bottles produced.” Luis Gutiérrez (robertparker.com). 92 points.
Château De Maligny Fourchaume Chablis 1er Cru 2015 (France) $42
Fourchaume is one of the best known Premier Cru vineyards in Chablis. “The curving slope of the Fourchaume Premier Cru vineyard provides producers with subtle but distinct variations in exposure within the site, allowing them to tailor very specific expressions. The superior-quality chalk and limestone-rich Kimmeridgian soils produce a notably round, lemony and mineral wine that makes the site one of the most recognizable in Chablis. This will be an elegant, refined wine that will offer a crisp, flavourful articulation of why Chablis is so special.” www.winespectator.com 93 points
Domaine Servin Bougros Grand Cru Chablis 2013 (France) $70
Domain Servin’s winemaker is Australian-born Marc Cameron, “Servin's 2013 Chablis Bougros is done entirely in oak, an approach that seems very well suited to the wine. Rich and textured, the 2013 blossoms in the glass with lemon peel, white flowers, spices and sage. There is a lot to like here, including the wine's significant near-term appeal.” Antonio Galloni.” 90-92 points.
How the wines were ranked