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by Fred McMillin
We had eight California Chardonnays aboard our virtual vessel. After one sip of each wine, the crew (tasters) had to toss one overboard. Then, they took a second sip of the seven survivors, followed by jettisoning another bottle. I collected the tossed, wrapped bottles. So we will unwrap them as I write and we'll all learn who won...the sole survivor. (Note: 4 bottles are '97s, 4 are '98, all under $20.)
We lose a '97 from the Chardonnay-friendly Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County. It's the Chalone Group's Edna Valley Vineyard winery, $16.50.
Out goes another '97, this one from the Napa Valley. Crisp, nice nose. Shame to lose it...Clos LaChance Chardonnay, Bottle #8269, $17.
OUCH! A nice Napa '98 goes overboard. We're losing some fine wines. This is the Sattui, Carsi Vineyard, $18.50.
Let's unwrap the next...another '97 gone...attractive lemon, apple, cinnamon...Guenoc North Coast, $15.50.
There's only one 1997 left. Will it whip the 1998 upstarts?
A '98 is gone. It's the younger version of the first Chardonnay overboard, the '98 Edna Valley Vineyard winery, both from the esteemed Paragon Vineyard, $18. The '98 had more zip than the '97.
A second label made it this far. We've finally tossed the '98 Hawk Crest, produced by Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, $15, (pictured).
The Last Sip
The final '97 is gone, but not forgotten. It's wearing its three years beautifully, the '97 Bouchaine Chardonnay, Carneros, $19.
So, the survivor must be a '98, and it is...
Our Wine of the Day
1998 Clos du Bois Calcaire 100% Chardonnay
Exactly one year ago we compared 1997 California Chardonnays with their 1995 counterparts. The more recent vintage (1997) was the overwhelming choice. Today, we see the younger vintage again is favored, the 1998 over the 1997. I conclude that if I'm buying a California Chardonnay to pour for guests, I'm going to buy a fresh, recent release.
Postscript—The Beat Goes On
The popularity of California Chardonnay is not fading. Some numbers:
09/18/00—They Aim to Please
09/15/00—PK Is A-OK!
09/14/00—Meanwhile, Back at the Chateau
09/13/00—Sept. 13 Is Grandparents' Day
09/11/00—No Way, José...White Wines Don't Win!
09/08/00—Like WOW! Whadda Tasting!
09/07/00—Best of the Course
09/05/00—The Discovery of Wine According to Omar Khayyam
09/04/00—Your Chardonnay For Labor Day
This page created September 2000