Wineflock - Chardonnay Shootout

My House

Tasted September 6, 2007 by winefool with 434 views

Introduction

Every year the Flock convenes to compare some of California's and France's better chardonnays. Usually the California wines clean up in this blind format (of course not many people are turning up with the great Grand Crus aged to perfection either...). This year we opened the theme to any chardonnay from anywhere and any vintage. This had the odd effect of greatly increasing the diversity of the wines compared to past years - even though NO ONE brought anything from outside California or France...

Overall the tasting was fun and the wines showed reasonably well with some highlight and low lights. Once again we proved that no matter how much you love Chablis, they just have a tough time in this format and company. Oh yeah, and we agreed once again that Aubert is making some of the best chardonnay in the world (even the Francophiles had to agree on the 05 Ritchie).

All wines blind as usual.

Flight 1 - Welcome wines with cheese, sausage, and smoked fish (2 notes)

White
2005 Peay Vineyards Roussanne/Marsanne Estate USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
90 points
Nice enough full new world Marsanne/Roussanne, big and spicy, but perhaps with a bit more heat than I'd like.
White
2005 Peay Vineyards Viognier Estate USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
91 points
A lovely wine with plenty of fruit, spice, and character, but it did not scream Viognier to me. I think a step up in quality and balance from the marsanne/roussane. Clearly new world - you won't mistake this for Condrieu.

Flight 2 - Chardonnays with broasted chicken, caprese, and pasta salad (10 notes)

White
2004 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
95 points
Group #2, My #1 - Cloudy electric yellow. Medium nose of candied banana peel with just a hint of the tropics. Opened up more as it warmed a bit from fridge temp. Mmmmn, electric yellow sweet tropical fruit on the palate. Unmistakably Aubert and delicious as always.
White
2005 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
95 points
Group #1, My #2 - Full yellow with a green tinge. This is the first vintage of Aubert that did not have that slight cloudiness, which I think actually improves the appearance a bit. Full round aroma of yellow fruit and great mineral. Big bright mineral with beautiful tropical yellow fruit. Great intensity, balance and focus here.
White
2005 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
92 points
Group #7, My #7 - Clear yellow color. Clean pale acidic green apple nose, almost reminiscint of a good sancerre. Big tight lemon yellow fruit with clean acidity. I think this wine probably merits a little higher score but suffered in the context of this tasting against all the bigger oaked examples. It was a really lovely chablis on its own. Also, this wine seemed to show a bit younger than the other 05 GCs from Fevre I've had recently.
White
1998 Kistler Chardonnay Cuvée Cathleen USA, California, Sonoma County
88 points
Group #10, My #8 - Full copper gold color - clearly showing signs of advanced age. Huge aroma of honeyed butterscotch. Huge rich tight butterscotch fruit. Showing clear older/oxidative notes, but still has good energy and underlying breed. Plenty of debate on this wine as it is clearly showing signs of accelerated aging. The owner bought it on release and stored it in his cellar since then so storage/treatment has not been an issue. So is this just an off bottle or is it an off wine??
White
2001 Chasseur Chardonnay Lorenzo USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
93 points
Group #4, My #4 - Golden color. full clean aroma of yellow fruit and lemon pledge. Very rich ripe yellow fruit with spice and oak, but nicely balanced. A clear honeyed note here.
White
1996 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
93 points
Group #8, My #3 - Yellow color. Medium nose of yellow friut and mineral with hints of lanolin and oak. Full yellow fruit with nice inner-core energy. Balanced acidity, long finish. I obviously liked this better than most, but I'll stand by that.
White
2002 Verget Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons Vieilles Vignes des Minots France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
93 points
Group #3, My #5 - Yellow color. Medium forweard nose of mellow slightly sweet yellow fruit. Nice rich round lanolin yellow fruit and mineral with oak notes. Good acidity and a long finish. Again, I ranked this higher in the context of the chablis tasting, but it showed well with the group here again.
White
2000 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
87 points
Group #9, My #10 - Bright yellow color. Pale aroma of white and yellow fruit with a hint of oak. Medium slightly hollow bitter yellow fruit. Showed the same chardonnay character as many of the other wines, but lacks the stuffing to pull it off. After unveiling I was surprised as I've had much better examples of this wine in other years.
White
1999 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
92 points
Group #6, My #6 - Full golden color. Forward nose of angular yellow fruit with some spice. Opened up with a sweet note in the glass. Big sweet spicy mouthful of yellow fruit and oak. A bit over the top for me, but nice.
White
1998 Lynmar Estate Chardonnay Reserve Quail Hill Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
87 points
Group #5, My #9 - Golden color. Huge nose of briar spicy acid and heat. Leesey. Big honeyed spicy oaky glyecerin yellow fruit on the palate with more heat. Interesting wine, but not really my cup of tea.

Flight 3 - Dessert with pumpkin pie (2 notes)

White - Off-dry
1975 Weingut G.F. Von Nell Wiltinger Klosterberg Riesling Auslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
88 points
Interesting wine. Full deep golden color. Nice aroma with the emphasis on petrol. Decent riesling character with most of the sweetness absorbed. Almost a bit watery on the mid palate though. Better than I expected given the fill.
White - Off-dry
1993 Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendange Tardive France, Alsace, Alsace AOC
93 points
Turns out I had mis labelled this and it was the regular bottling, not the VT. Still an absolutely lovely wine. Full rich thick with a lot going on. A bit of sweetness, but not quite enough to hold up to the pumpkin pie.