A Good Wine.
I love a glas of a good Chardonnay. It is a perfect start of the weekend. At this time of the year (winter), by my open fireplace, the ultimate moment of relax for me is with a glas of a good wine. During summertime on my balcony with a spectacular view over the city and the harbour, a good Chardonnay makes a perfect moment.
Chardonnay ….a cheap Bridget Jones way of getting drunk wine…or….. maybe not….
A breif background.
The Vikings caused a bloody mess and they knew it. What they couldn´t imagine was the impact their mission would lead to when it comes to wine… French wine…. top French wine…. The Chablis.
If the grape Gouais blanc was brought into France by The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and given to the Gauls, or whether it enters France by Croatia or Cyprys, well that is an unsolved story. But, and this we know for sure, when the Peasants grape “Gouais blanc” grew close to the Noble world´s grape Pinot noir, love was in the air and a child was born: the grape Chardonnay.
Sprung from the cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais blanc, Chardonnay was first planted in Chablis by the Cistercians at the Pontigny Abbey during the 12 th century. The Cictercians bought the the wineyards from the monks of Saint Martin convent. The monks ended up in Chablis after they fled the Vikings anno 853 to save their reliks of Saint Martin.
The Wine was considered as medicin so of course it was cultivated by the moncs… a wise decision.
The grape Chardonnay is easy to grow and adapts to the soil it is planted in. Chardonnay is in fact the second most grown grape in the world. Although the winemakers have a vast vareity of options to flavour their wines, it is the soil /terroir in Chablis that is the secret to the unique Chablis bouqet.
Kimmeridgian soil and its partner in mission Portlandian limestone containing fossils, fossiled sea shells, going back to the Jurrasic period is the Master key to an excellent Chardonnay of France.
Grande Cru of Chablis.
A 250 acres ( 100ha) south-west facing gentle slope of the Serein River around the east of town of Chablis, is the heart of Chablis. It s here you find them, the 7 specific wineyards producing 3% of the Chablis in total with the right to be ranked as The Grande Cru of Chablis. They are from north-west to south-east: Preuses, Bougros, Vaudesir, Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos and Blanchot. Between Vaudesir and Grenouilles you find La Moutonne wineyard. It is an intruiging eighth Grand Cru wineyard not officially accpeted by INAO but moving gradually towards acceptance.
You recognize the Chablis by its charateristic taste of freschness, honeyed aromas of lime and mineral flavours caused by the Kimmeridgian limestone.
The Chardonnay grape loves vareity so you find this jewell in the most expensive wines in France from Champagne to Burgundy to everyday great tasting wines from less prestigious regions. So enjoy the gifts from our beloved God Bacchus.
The New world.
Should you prefer the vanilla creamy spicy Chardonnay you should turn your eyes to “New World”. The New World of California, New Zeeland, Australia and South Africa. These regions develop a different kind of Chardonnay. The taste of vanilla is a result of the storage in American Oak barrels, and the malolactic fermentation ( giving the butterness). The warm climate is another factor that has an impact on the spicy buttery Californian Chardonnay wine.
Wine has been produced on the westcoast of the US since the Spanish Catholics made their entry around 1760. Personally I think the opening of wineyards in Sonoma Valley in the 1850 is a benchmark for American wine. When C LeFranc established Almaden wineyards, John Patchett established his wineyards in Napa, hiring Charles Krug as his winemaker. Later Charles Krug founed his winery in St Helena and so was the stage set. Following in the footsteps of General Mariano Vallejo and Agosto Haraszthy they created a tradion of winemaking of most tasteful charactaire.
The blindtest 1976.
A classique milestone in the history of the American wine tradition was the blindtest 1976. It was conducted by the Judgement of Paris arranged by Steve Purrier. The test was won by 1793 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley, in favor to the Burgundy Chardonnay Meuralt-Charmes 1973.
Today Alexander valley, Los Carneros, Russian River Valey produces Chardonnay that resembles to the Burgundy style. Despite earthquakes, wars, depressions, the Sonoma valley winery Beringer still produces one of the best Chardonnays in the world. Some of the most recognized wine companies in the world have established production units in California. In the Anderson Valley we find the famous houses of Moet, Tattinger and Roeder.
So to make a general distinction between the two you may say that:
France: Chablis and its Chardonnay sisters present a fresh mineral, limetones, apple tones and hazelnut aroma. The storage is crucial to Grand cru Chablis. Stealtanks are used to keep the original flavors of the wine. When oakbarrels are used for storage they are made of french new oak. The reason for this is to make sure the natural caractaire of the wine remains intact. The grapes are of course harvested by hand.
The US: Chardonnays are mainly stored on American oakbarrels and given the characteristic: vanilla, butter, mango, pineapple, nuts, the oak generates also a spicy flavor.
Climate, storage, MLA, raping/ time of raping, sunexposure, soil, watering, etc are factors that influences the utcome of the flavour.
This grape presents through history an elegance, a charisma, that only Bacchus could create. He would create it on a fine glorious day when he a wish for A Good Wine.
“A la Vôtre”