A Chardonnay Kinda Day?

It’s not that I don’t like chardonnay… It’s just that the mere word has about the same effect as “muzak” on my gray matter. It’s the Mantovani, the Kenny G, the Barry Manilow of grapes. Not to mention that there are a gazillion exciting, diverse, delectable, different other wonderful white wines to be had and enjoyed. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t lovely, terroir-driven chardonnays, but who really wants to listen to the same band or read the same writer over and over again, anyway?
Still, we try never to say never and I’m always one to seek out the exception to any rule. Opportunity presented itself a few evenings ago, as The Accomplice and I were puzzling over the daily “what shall we drink” dilemma, I spied a bottle of Aldo Conterno “Bussiador” chardonnay ’05 in the rack. Hmmmm. Could be time to drink that one up, we agreed.
First pour, first sip, it seemed as if we were catching a glimpse of a fading star, hints of its former glory fading into caramelly richness, with just barely enough acidity to keep it together. At first. But as it aired, notes of lemon curd, white flowers and what Throckmorton refers to as “Bit o’Honey” (in a really good way) began to emerge. Nice. This could be good…
Moments later there magically appeared, tucked discreetly behind a bunch of kale. a bottle of ’05 Jarvis chardonnay, stashed away to chill a couple months ago then forgotten. While neither The Accomplice nor yr. obedient correspondent have a particular jones for spendy California chardonnay, who were we to argue with the fine academic opportunity offered by this pair of spendy, mature chardonnays?
It was crazy stuff, the nose more reminiscent of riesling than chardonnay (especially chardonnay from the Golden State). Aromas of apricots and petrol had the palate had the sensory table for sweet wine, then delivered a dry, silky, unctuous-but-focused rendering of ripe fruit. Still-lively acidity made all that richness dance.
Both wines continued to open and evolve over the next couple hours, showing greater clarity, complexity and finesse as they aired. By evening’s end, they had fully blossomed into gorgeous examples of one grape rendered in two markedly contrasting styles.
Moral of the story? Just say “yes” – even to chardonnay. And don’t forget to eat your kale.

More about: chardonnay, Italian wine, white wine


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