3 Different Ways to Chardonnay

San Francisco Wine School Tasting Table

During our Saturday afternoon Grand Tasting at Eat Drink SF, we attended one of the San Francisco Wine School‘s tasting classes. We enjoyed the first mini-workshop of the afternoon, tasting Chardonnay from three different countries, and we the title of the workshop so much that I was about to borrow it for the headline of this post: “Chardonnay: Burgundy, Buttery, and Beyond”.

The tasting was led by Master Sommelier David Glancy, “one of only twelve people in the world to hold both the revered Master Sommelier diploma and a Certified Wine Educator credential”. I think it’s great that he had the opportunity to serve Mohammed Ali while managing a restaurant in Macau, China.

He made a brief intro to the edu-tasting experience we were about to have, and he also mentioned “SOMM”, the documentary about the experience of four candidates to the Master Sommelier exam (success rate below 10%). I loved the joke about the fact that everything they say in the movie is true, but they don’t mention all the divorces that happen to candidates during the preparation to this exam 🙂

The San Francisco Wine School has some workshops of introduction to wine tasting that I might try soon. Let’s jump to the wines, 3 different Chardonnay that fall in the retail price range between $20 and $24.

Pouilly Fuissé – Louis Latour

The first Chardonnay we tasted was from the Old World – Pouilly Fuissé – and gave David the chance to explain how French wines can be challenging for newbies and also for experts: the grape variety is rarely on the label and the name of the towns can be easily confused (in this case with Pouilly Fumé).

This Chardonnay (100%), produced by Louis Latour, stands out with higher acidity than Californian Chardonnay. Green apple and mouthwatering reaction are dominant. Second and third-use oak only, together with very limited malolactic fermentation make this wine a great representation of the terroir.

You can read more about this wine on the winery’s website.

Eola Hills Reserve – 2012 Oregon Chardonnay

The second wine we tasted is from Oregon and David explained the crowd how it’s always better to go for a specific location or vineyard than a generic appellation if you don’t already know the wines. In this case, if you have a look at the website of the producer, you can read that the grapes for Eola Hills Reserve, labeled as Oregon Chardonnay, come from four different valleys. However, we will be pretty satisfied with this Chardonnay.

Another good insight from David was that where Pinot Noir grows well, also Chardonnay usually grows well. The coolish weather in Oregon, mostly known for its Pinot Noir, is actually good for Chardonnay, too.

While tasting, we could immediately recognize the New World style: riper fruit, more vanilla, and more floral notes. And more new oak, of course. Here, the malolactic fermentation made the buttery flavor more evident than in the French Chardonnay. In summary, we can definitely say this wine is balanced, thanks to good acidity that does a nice job counterbalancing the higher alcohol.

Cuveé Alexandre 2012 – Lapostolle, Casablanca Valley – Chile

With the last wine, we moved down to South America to taste a Chilean Chardonnay from Casablanca Valley: Cuveé Alexandre by Lapostolle.

From another region with a cool climate, this Chardonnay offered characteristics of the New World, creamy with some toasty oak, but also a bright acidity. Again, as in the previous wine, the wine falls among the fairly balanced category.

After tasting this third wine, David asked who liked it to raise the hand. After the answers, he revealed that the left side of the room received a slightly corked sample, whereas the right side received a fine one. As hoped, the right side had more hands raised. And luckily enough, I was on the right side 🙂


Do you prefer Chardonnay from the New World or from the Old World?

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