Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wine Study- "Chardonnay"

Veramonte boasts one of Chile’s largest contiguous vineyards, with 11,000 acres of vines in the Casablanca region, an ultra-modern winery with a world class visitor’s center (how much of it is Chardonnay???)

“It’s weird that everyone is
crazy about Chardonnay.” 
“it is such a neutral grape variety,
yet it is the world's
favorite wine!”
- Jancis Robinson

We continue a series of sessions with the Francesca's at Sunset and Brannon's Cafe teams we are calling "Wine Study."  We are meeting every other Saturday for the purpose of expanding our knowledge and experience with wine.  Our guide is Jancis Robinson's Wine Course DVD, an excellent resource!  Aired in the United Kingdom in 1995 and is fascinating to see both area where the wine industry has not changed and areas where it has.

Episode 2- Chardonnay is amazing because of the juxtaposition Jancis shows us; New World vs Old World. She starts out on the Geoff Merrill's winery in McLaren Vale Australia where it is DRY as a bone and there seems to be two maybe three men working with giant machines, pumps, giant hoses, tractors and using additives like enzymes, yeast nutrients and liquid sulfur (to prevent oxidization), and techniques like all MOG removed (Martial Other than Grapes), and cooled like crazy (REFRIGERATION is very important to modern wine making), juice is squeezed as gently as possible to avoid any harsh flavors in the skins, stems and seeds.  The Mrs. Robinson takes us to France, Meursault specifically, the vineyards and winery of  Dominique Lafon where it is soaking WET and there are dozens of people working, a lot of it by hand, some machines, pumps, hoses, tractors are used however only natural yeast and no additives are used. The two wineries are a night and day comparison in every way except one; both wine makers did not like the other's Chardonnay AT ALL!

Jancis returns to Australia driving home even further the point of how dry it is there and interviewing  Adam Wynn of Mountadam in the Barossa Valley. He went to Bordeaux university, worked in Burgundy and had some of the most critical things to say about the French. “They have everything in their favor in France.”  “If you are born lucky enough to inherit three hectares of Meursault; it is a license to print money.”  “It is a tragedy to taste a bad French wine.”  AND the punch line to it all is that Monntadam was founded by Adam's father in 1972 as one of Australia's pioneer Chardonnay producers and handed it all over to Adam which he sold off in 2002 and is seemingly out of the wine business(?). While the other two Mr. Merrill and Mr. Lafon are both making GREAT wines today!  

As important to Chardonnay as anything else is the time it spends in oak barrels, so Mrs. Robinson takes us to the Francois Freres cooperage in the Saint-Romain Forests where a 150 year old tree is cut down to make two barrels!  On a whirlwind the way only a DVD can be Jancis takes us to San Francisco where the cooperage has an office and where Chardonnay DOMINATES on restaurant wine lists where she makes the declarative quote listed above.

It is a very compelling episode which is informative and instructional. Our group watched it and I provided this handout which has a few notes from the video and some information and links to more on the web related to the topics Jancis covers, hopefully it adds a bit of depth on the subjects.

To check your learning experience and highlight the most important information here is the quiz.  And the quiz with answers. And please reply to this blog; is Chardonnay your  favorite wine?

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