Monday, July 15, 2019

Chardonnay Showcase Reveals Winners From Oregon, California, North Carolina And Italy

Chardonnay Showcase

During our recent tasting event, the Chardonnay showcase attracted attention to some tasty new Chardonnay releases.

California And Then Some

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world. It’s by far and away the most popular wine in the US, continuing a decade of supremacy that has featured sales increases every year. While California is the acknowledged Chardonnay leader, we made some tasty discoveries from other regions during a recent tasting.

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Due to my wife’s involvement in a local women’s group, we ended up hosting a Sip, Sup and Support tasting for a local school clothing and supplies drive. With nearly 40 in attendance, we had some enthusiastic supporters of this charity work. Having an assortment of amazing wines didn’t hurt either.

We decided to showcase five outstanding Chardonnay releases. Four are domestic, from California, Oregon and North Carolina. For kicks we added an Italian Chardonnay.

Swordplay To Start

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has been in or around North Carolina these past couple weeks: It is sweltering hot. It was so hot, I saw a squirrel picking up nuts with a potholder in the backyard.

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You get the picture. Thankfully, I had our Chardonnay chilled in ice for more than four hours before our guests arrived.

After successfully sabering a bottle of French sparkling wine with a US Coast Guard officer sword and enjoying some sparkling wine, it was time to move to the Chardonnay showcase.

We had a pair of entries from Oregon. I’ve visited Oregon twice this year and one of the hot – or should I say cool? – trends is Chardonnay. Growers there have planted clones that thrive in cool climates and the results are delicious.

Our Chardonnay Showcase

Here’s a capsule look at our five Chardonnay wines featured in our showcase:

Regina di Cipro ChardonnayCameron Hughes 2017 Lot 672 Chardonnay, Rogue Valley, OR - A delightful surprise, this wine is on the Chablis side of the Chardonnay spectrum. Light with bright citrus fruit, mouthwatering pear flavor and plentiful acidity. If you don’t know Rogue Valley, Oregon’s southernmost wine region, this is a good reason to explore it. Cameron Hughes is a négociant and doesn’t own vineyards or a winery. Instead they specialize in locating superior quality at palatable prices under their own label. A steal at only $14 SRP with a value two or three times that.

Marshall Davis 2017 Chardonnay, Yamhill-Carlton, OR -- Chardonnay is a rising star in Willamette Valley. This micro-production (150 cases) wine is barrel fermented and aged 16 months in mostly neutral oak. Grown on gently sloping hills and planted in shallow volcanic topsoil, this Chard delivers flowing minerality, pear notes, tropical fruit and perfect balance. An example of the new winning style of Oregon Chardonnay. SRP $39.

Dry Creek Vineyards 2917 DCV Estate Block 10 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley -- Luxurious, handcrafted wine from one of America’s top Chardonnay regions. The balance is impeccable with the perfect touch of oak rounding out a rich glass of roasted pear, lime, and apricot flavors. Grapes are whole cluster pressed to extract complex flavors. A smooth and limited-production success at SRP $34.

Surry Cellars 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Yadkin Valley, NC – Yes, America, high-quality wine is being produced in North Carolina. This wine is made by students at Surry Community College studying at the Shelton-Badgett NC Center for Viticulture and Enology, a winery and teaching facility. Oaky Chardonnay fans in our group loved this wine, which has lush flavors with deep oak notes. It was barrel-aged for two years and underwent battonage to develop a deep golden hue and full-bodied flavors. It looks like the future of wine in North Carolina is in good hands.

Peri Bigogno Regina Di Cipro 2016 Chardonnay Montenetto di Brescia IGP – The “Queen of Cyprus” is a light and breezy Chardonnay from the Old World. In addition to pineapple and apricot flavors, there is a distinct savory aspect to this medium-bodied wine. This Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel to maintain the fresh, crisp flavors. It’s also the lowest ABV of the group at 12.5%. SRP is $22.

There’s no better time to pop open a nicely chilled bottle of Chardonnay. Whether you like deeply oaked Chardonnay, more balance, or a stainless steel finish there is a bottle for you at a price that’s easy to swallow.

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