Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Chardonnay Wine Flights a Wine Review (billy)

This past Monday eveining the fetching Mrs. (billy) and I went out on a date and hit a local wine and coffee bar that is just starting to do wine flights. We like giving local small shops our business and we we decided to sample what we jokingly termed their "new white flight" option.

I like doing wine flights for the simple reason that the flavor profiles of similar or the same varietals are so much easier to compare. Differences are immediate and obvious even if it is something to which it is difficult to put words. Even the fetching Mrs. (billy) was able to describe what she liked about the nose of the second wine sampled and we both clearly had our favorites (read on to see what).

I had my digital voice recorder with me and so I was able to take "review" notes without being too obtrusive - though I did garner a few laughs from the Mrs. Here are the 3 wines we sampled with my transcribed notes.

Four Emus 2004 Chardonnay. Australia.
On the Nose: crisp green apple, floral scents like carnation and iris, lemonny citrus.
On the Palate: heavily citrused, slight spritzer
Finish: is acidic with some bite

Alpha Domas 2005 Chardonnay(Hawks Bay New Zealand)
Nose: Deep pineapple and olive. Not nearly as sharp as the Four Emus. Subtle and seemingly more structured.
Palate: Citrus rind (a bit too much acid I expect). Green Apple combined with a sweeter citrus flavor. Not nearly as flowery as the Four Emus.
Finish: not nearly as green as the Four Emus but still having a bit of a bite. A touch of "mineraliness" that adds to the complexity.

This is an unoaked Chardonnay which really lets the fruit come through in nice and unexpected ways.

Hanna Chardonnay 2004 (Russian River Valley - Sonoma)
Nose:Subtle nose combining honeyed flowers, melon, light citrus, mineraliness that speaks of olive oil and figs.
Palate: Simply wonderful caramel-carmelized sugar-vanilla flavors that are intermingling in a subtle complexity that is engaging and fantastic when combined with the nose.
Finish: lingering with a silky smoothness that is buttery and without any of the acid "bite" of the other two Chardonnays.
Overall: Incredibly complex and very well balanced.

The Hanna 2004 Chardonnay is an incredibly complex and fantastically balanced wine. Clearly the best of the flight. While the Mrs. enjoyed the unoaked and heavenly pineapple of the Alpha Domus 2005 Chardonnay, we both picked the Hanna 2004 as the best of the bunch. In fact, after our evening wine flight date was over, we hit the local wine store (Byerly's for those of you who are in the know) to pick up a bottle for our January wine party. We paid $20 for it there.

Now when you understand that Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted varietals you understand that there are simply scads of Chardonnays out there. To find a Chardonnay for $20 that has the complexity and subtlety and structure of the Hanna when there are so many others out there that are nearly the same price but lack so much of the character and flavor of the Hanna, it is a treat. While the Four Emus can run anywhere from $12 - $18 I would not recommend it. The Alpha Domas will run about $14 or so and it worth it for the softness of the fruit and really delightful nose. But the $20 Hanna 2004 Chardonnay is a keeper.

Raise a Glass! and if you're enjoying a flight, raise 3!


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