Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

My March wine club: 3 Great Unoaked Chardonnays

By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, March 26th, 2007 at 11:52 am in Uncategorized.

Alright people, I promise this is the last time I write about Chardonnay for a while. And to think, this time last year I was a snooty, practically red-only wine drinker.

Last night, my monthly wine club met at my place. I got off to a late start preparing for the crew of 12, as I hit the Persian New Year party at The Regency Center the night before. We Persians know how to party.

Anyway, I offered a selection of Chard-friendly cheeses, like gruyere and a medium brie, with a cherry and pecan topping; an olive, tomato and havarti lavash tart; endives filled with blue cheese pecan spread; and potato nachos. All in all a delicious and cheesalicious evening.

On to the wines. We bagged and tasted blind 8 unoaked chardonnays. I chose the theme to see if the butter would remain when the oak was taken out of the winemaking process. In addition to no oak, some of the wines also didn’t go through malolactic fermentation. Some did. All the wines were less than $20 and were a combination of Old and New World. I was surprised there was no representation from Chile.

These were our top three:

Omrah 2004 Unoaked Chardonnay: $18. Grapes hailing from two locations, the Adelaide Hills region of southern Australia famed for it’s cooler, high altitude climate that yield crisp, vibrant whites and the warmer Geographe region. Fermented in stainless steel. Nectarine on the nose, lime on the palate. Refreshing and delicious.

Nepenthe 2005 Unoaked Chardonnay: $16. Hailing from the same two regions of southern Australia. No malolactic fermentation. Pale yellow color and delicious pear aroma. Parker gave it 90 points.

Macon-Villages Louis Jadot Chardonnay. $13. Why can’t we learn from the French? Don’t fuss with the variety and watch it bloom. This white Burgundy came in third and had a medium finish that we all insisted was elongated by the cheeses. You can find the wine at Wine Thieves in Lafayette.

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  • Michael Elder

    Hendry Vineyards in Napa uses the same fruit to make two chardonnays. One oaked and the other ferments in steel. It’s like tasting wine for the first time from a Reidel stem vs. my mom and dad’s rocks glass.
    They host vineyard tours and tasting during the spring and harvest. I highly recommend a visit or two.
    Michael Elder