The ‘Not Since Lunch’ group (composed of Madison sommeliers, wine shop owners, wine bar owners, and wine reps) blind tasted twelve Chardonnays. Rules: Still “as in flat” Chardonnay from anywhere.
Some surprises, some exciting moments. We all picked our top 3-4 with general agreement as to which were best. 2 and 9 was a gotcha duplicate, a nicely educational moment. Some discussion of 6, some heated discussion of the merits (or not) of 11. Standouts were 2 (&9), 8, 1, 6, and 12. A couple of us also liked 5. 8 was agreed best value. Indeed, it’s listed in WS top 100 wines of 2012 at #43.
In order of random reveal, not rank:
1) Domaine Serene Clos du Soleil 08 ($39?). Dundee Hills. This landed right in the tops for the majority of tasters. Big, round, fruit flavors. Good structure and complexity. Big and delicious. A great American Chardonnay.
2) Domaine Servin Chablis Premier Cru 2010. ($32?) Tops. Light melon. Lithe with beautiful minerality.
3) Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2011. South Africa. Bold, buttery, sour stone fruit. A guilty pleasure for some. Generally not well received.
4) Piatelli Chardonnay 2009. Argentina. Plastic bubblegum flavors. No.
5) Benovia Chardonnay 2010 ($42?). Russian River Valley. Medium-light body with notes of apricots and nuts. Butter popcorn, green beans. Baked pear. Was in my personal top picks, but did not do as well generally.
6) Francois Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 2008. ($42) Revealed itself right away through an incredible finish. A couple of tasters noted its classy, lingering, qualities. It did not have a lot of fruit, nor was it citrusy– and it lacked acid. But it was pretty and understated despite being underwhelming.
7) Domaine Romy Beaujolais Blanc. Silky with nice acidity yet a strange flabby flatness.
8) Chateau de la Greffiere Mâcon-La Roche Vineuse Vieilles Vignes 2010. ($18?) Steely, nice fruit, cool with good structure. Nicely balanced between fruit and acid. Chosen as best value.
9) Domaine Servin Chablis Premier Cru 2010. Exact same bottle as 2. A ‘gotcha’ for most tasters.
10) Patrick Puize Petit Chablis 2010 ($26?). A little flat, medium-bodied but weak in fruit and acid. Disappointing.
11) William Hill Chardonnay 2011. Spicy. Australian? South African? No, Napa Valley. Nothing varietally correct about this bottle, but at $8~ it sells.
12) Sea Smoke Gratis 09. ($60? K&L) Rich. Nice candy and butter flavor. A little heavy, but a big decadent Chardonnay comparable in this tasting only to the Domaine Serene. A pleasure having these two together on the table.