Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Tasting Note – Blue Water Unoaked Chardonnay

From a small winery over in Michigan’s Thumb (the southeast, but north of Detroit) that I visited last year.  I’m having this with mushroom risotto and mixed sauteed greens from my garden – I expect the steeliness of the wine will complement the turkey stock and the spiciness of the greens well.

Blue Water Unoaked Chardonnay (2013) Michigan – $16

Color: pale lemon-yellow.

Aroma: pear, lemon, asian pear, and jasmine.  Classic unoaked character on the nose.

Taste: big mouthful of pear and asian pear, quite lovely.  Not as sharp as a Sauvignon Blanc, but definitely crisp and this begs for food. The finish is really long and lush.

With the rice and greens this shines as well – I’d pair this with goat cheese, veal, pasta with cream sauces, or simple roast chicken.

Highly recommended, and a steal at $16.


Tasting Note – Hawthorne Barrel Reserve Chardonnay

From one of my trips up north last year – I’m having this with a cod, potato, and cabbage dish from Blue Apron.

Hawthorne Barrel Reserve Chardonay (2013) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $25

Color: straw yellow.

Aroma: lemon and Golden Delicious apple fruit, with just a touch of vanilla.

Taste: very well-balanced, and quite rich in texture – more apple fruit, with lemon underneath.  The oak and vanilla notes are subdued and harmonious; this is not a typical oaky Chard.  The finish is quite long, on both the mid-palate and the back of the tongue, and coats the mouth nicely with fruit and a hint of lanolin.

20170430_191040Pairing: it opens up a little more with some warmth and the food, and exhibits some tropical notes – especially pineapple. A great foil for the earthiness of the food.

Recommended! This easily competes with Chardonnays in the same price range from California.  I see from their website that this vintage is sold out now – if you were lucky enough to snag some, you’re in for a real treat.  I’ll be checking out more recent vintages soon.

Tasting Note: 2Lads Chardonnay

I received this bottle in my fall wine club box from 2Lads in the Traverse City area.  This is estate fruit, fermented half in stainless steel and half in French oak, and I’m enjoying this with shrimp and fettuccine tonight.

2Lads Chardonnay (2015) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $20

Color: brassy/golden yellow

Aroma: lots of apple and lemon notes – Golden Delicious apples and sweet lemon curd, with an undercurrent of nutmeg and vanilla.

Taste: smooth and luscious texture, there is definitely some oak richness up front and in the mid-palate, but it’s not heavy or flabby; I’m comfortable with this amount of oak, but not any more. The lemon notes hit up front but are rapidly overcome by apple and pear; combined with the richness, it gives the impression of a really nice apple tart. The finish perks up with some more acidity for food-friendliness.

This is nice, close but not quite a recommended wine.  Don’t over-chill this!  It’s much better at 50F-55F.



Pairing: Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages and Salmon

Made a Blue Apron recipe tonight for dinner – #958 Seared Salmon and Sauce Gribiche, with mashed potatoes, summer beans & cherry tomatoes.

First, notes on the meal: really good, except too much tarragon! I’d never had sauce gribiche before, but it’s a no-brainer: start as if you were making deviled eggs, except smash everything together – white, yolk, mayo, mustard, relish, plus tarragon or chervil or parsley.  The salmon was simply pan-fried, the mashed potatoes used olive oil, a touch of vinegar, shallots, and tarragon. The string beans & cherry tomatoes were done as a sauté with some garlic.

Now, to the wine.

Joseph Drouhin (2013) Macôn-Villages, Burgundy – $17

Color: a solid golden-yellow

Aroma: Lemon curd, a hint of lemon meringue pie, and some toast

Taste: Very clean, very typical for this appellation – mellow lemon and crisp pear.  Handled the tarragon in the potatoes and sauce gribiche very well, but not quite enough oomph for the salmon.

Not quite good enough to be recommended, but if you’ve never had French Chardonnay before, this is an excellent place to start.  No butter, no overwhelming oak, and a much lighter texture – the definition of a food-friendly Chardonnay.  Try it with chicken breast or a basic white fish.

Wine Tasting Report – Frei Brothers at Kroger Austin Landing

The mega-Kroger has been open in Austin Landing for about a year, but this was my first chance to attend one of their wine tastings. They really go all-out on Friday, with some very impressive hot appetizers and dinner options from the kitchen. And they have a full on-premise license, so you can open any bottle on the shelf if the tasting flight doesn’t appeal to you!

This week they sample Frei Brothers wine from California, and I had the roast vegetable flatbread and the Tuscan-style poached corvina.  The wines were a mixed bag, but the Merlot stood out positively.

Frei Brothers Chardonnay (2012) Russian River Valley – $17

Color: very bright yellow,

Aroma: predominately apple, with some toast and vanilla underneath.

Taste: high acid for a Chardonnay; the apple carries into the midpalate, but then oak dominates from there to the finish.  Decent enough, but not really noteworthy.

Frei Brothers Pinot Noir (2011) Russian River Valley – $23

Color: quite dark for Pinot; I suspect there may be something else blended in.

Aroma: cherry and oak, with some forest-floor and earth.

Taste: quite full-bodied and almost jammy. This is not really varietally correct, so I’m almost certain they threw in 15% or so of Zin or Syrah to plump it up. Disappointing, actually.

Frei Brothers Merlot (2012) Sonoma County – $20

Color: garnet red

Aroma: very inviting spiciness.

Taste: round, dark, full, with a big dollop of fruit throughout. This is nice stuff, darker and heavier than a typical California Merlot. On the finish, the acidity you expect finally makes its appearance. I think this is the star of the tasting.

Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Alexander Valley – $20

Color: very dark purple.

Aroma: mostly earth notes, with some cassis and blueberry.

Taste: this is thinner in the mouth than what you expect. The Merlot is actually bigger than the Cab – this bottle is disappointing.

Ambasciatore Silvanum Chardonnay-Raboso

A very unusual and interesting blend from northeastern Italy. This is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Raboso Bianco – a crossbreed of the ancestral red Raboso variety with Marzemina Bianca to produce a dusky-skinned white grape. I’m having this with some baked flounder. I got this as a Christmas gift and thought now would be a good time to pop the cork.

Wine-016Ambasciatore Silvanum Chardonnay-Raboso (2009) Veneto, Italy – $10 to $20.

Color: very dark for a white; this reminds me of an Amontillado Sherry, and I could swear there’s the tiniest hint of red in there as well.

Aroma: Apple and citrus blossoms, plus a little toastiness. I can’t find any details online, but I suspect this saw some malolactic fermentation in oak.

Taste: Loads of juicy apple, both fresh and dried fruit, along with some soft vanilla and hazelnut. The Raboso contributes a firm, tannic kick at the end. This is a surprisingly complex wine for the price, and it big enough to go with a hearty risotto, mackerel, or pork. Recommended!


Blue Fin Chardonnay

One of the original members of the Blue Fin line (along with the Pinot Noir) from Trader Joe’s. I’m having this with mushroom risotto and steamed broccoli this evening.

Blue Fin Chardonnay (2011) California – $5

Photo0339Color: pale golden-yellow, with a little bit of green – which indicates that it’s relatively young, and that pressing and fermentation were done with good temperature control.

Aroma: apple and pear mostly; the nose isn’t very big.

Taste: pretty fresh, with more apple and pear notes, a little bit of tropical fruit, and just a little butter. They probably used just a little induced malolactic fermentation to soften this up.

Good but not great. I would have liked a more pronounced aroma, a more complicated mix of flavors on the palate, and a longer finish.