August 2020 – New World “Rich and Oaky” Chardonnays
We tasted and compared three New World Chardonnays at different levels of complexity, all described as “rich and oaky” by Zoom. Participants had been advised in advance of the wines, all available from Majestic, so that they could have them delivered from their local branch.
In the early 1970s Chardonnay accounted for only a tiny proportion of all vines grown in California and Australia. Yet by the early 1990s it had become the most planted white wine grape in both countries.
The wines we tasted were:
Chile: Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2019, Casablanca Valley 13.5%, Majestic £7.99 (Mix Six)
Chile is an isolated wine region, with a largely unpolluted atmosphere. It has a Mediterranean climate, with reliable sunshine, and can get cool at night. Wine growing has developed since the 1990s in the Casablanca Valley which gets cool ocean breezes.
The Luis Felipe Edwards Winery is the largest 100% family-owned wine company and one of the largest wineries in Chile today.
We thought that the stylish label was rather better than the wine, which had little length, but that the wine was quaffable and easy to drink at the price.
California: Edna Valley Chardonnay 2018, 13.5%, Majestic £13.99 (Mix Six)
From the 1990s wineries were expanding into the Californian Central coast region, where the valley has continuous breezes from the ocean and warm sunshine.
Edna Valley Vineyards has been there for more than three decades.
This wine was in a similar style to the last one, but there was much more to it. It was balanced, with an elegant finish. The oak was more noticeable.
South Eastern Australia: Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2016, 13.5%, Majestic £29.99 (Mix Six)
Chardonnays have become commercially successful in Australia, with reliable quality and varied character.
The Hardy winery was founded in 1853 in South Australia. Eileen Hardy was the widow of the managing director who was killed in an air crash in 1938. She was the family matriarch and became well known for her contributions to the wine industry. The wine is their flagship Chardonnay and there is also a flagship Pinot Noir. It was made for her annual birthday present, and the 2016 vintage is the 30th year since it was first made. The wines have evolved over the years. It is a blend of hand-picked premium grapes from cool climate regions Tasmania & Yarra Valley.
This was agreed to be a complex wine, showing lovely aromas and tropical fruit palate, and a buttery finish. We liked it a lot. We did think that we would not have confused the taste with white Burgundy and that it had Australian characteristics.
This tasting demonstrated examples of different levels of New World Chardonnay and comparing what value you got by paying more.
Our normal tastings would be of more than three wines, but this Zoom format works well for us, for one hour in the early evening. We will not be tasting fine, old or unusual wines that we might have at some of our tastings, because the wines have to be in a reasonable price range and available for us to buy individually. But going online is an agreeable, undemanding way for us to keep in touch and enjoy tasting together, at a time when it is not easy for all of us to meet up in central London.
There is no charge for these events, but booking is required via our website. I hope to see you at another! Rachel Burnett