After our Chardonnay epiphany the other night, we wanted to try more French Chardonnay, so went down to our local Larry’s to see what we could find. As other Seattle bloggers have pointed out, Larry’s is a great place to get wine, and has an extensive collection. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure we go to a different Larry’s, and the actual wine staff are not so great at ours.
For instance, P. and I don’t much about wine, but we really know nothing about sake. One night, we decided (I have no idea why) that we needed to try some. So, we went down to Larry’s, where they have a large selection of sakes, and asked the wine person if she could recommend a few (we wanted to try at least two, since the little we did know was that there are a variety of different styles). She started reading the backs of the bottles. Now, that’s just not a great sign. We could read the labels. That part we had covered. Finally, she admitted that it was her first day and she actually knew nothing about sake. So, we muddled through on our own.
A few months later, I was shopping and noticed a big sign advertising a wine tasting that evening. So, P. and I went back at the appointed time to check it out. No tasting. We couldn’t find it anywhere. We checked the sign. It still said tonight. We were there at the right time. So, we went back to the wine department. We found that same employees who had “helped” us with the sake. She was on the phone. Her badge said “wine manager”. Seriously, that’s what it said. I stood nearby while she chatted on the phone. She looked at me, but didn’t acknowledge me. She kept chatting. This was not a work related call. Her end went kind of like this: “oh ha ha. My husband does the same thing! No really! He does! Ha!” I walked away. I browsed the aisles. I walked back. Still with the ha ha. Finally, I interrupted, “excuse me”. She sighed. Heavily. “I am so so sorry,” she said to the person on the phone. “A customer wants to ask me a question.”
I asked her about the tasting and she rudely told me that no, I was wrong, it was last night. I told her she might want to change the sign. She instead decided to go back to her call.
The point being, we couldn’t really ask for guidance about our French white burgundy. And we couldn’t go to the wine shop that gives us great service because they primarily deal in Northwest wines. So, Larry’s it was.
So, we just stood there and stared at the labels. Which, you know, were mostly in French. I tried to remember something from the article I read, but I couldn’t recall anything other than it mentioned that 2002 was a good year. Finally, we settled on the Bourgogne Louis Jadot 2002, thinking it would be a good representation of the general area. This probably was not the best choice though. I did additional research after we bought the bottle and found that white burgundy coming from the larger region is generally not as delicate as grapes coming from specific areas, and thusly are often aged in oak barrels, and otherwise treated differently. And since we were specifically looking for white burgundy that was very different from what we traditionally knew from California Chardonnay, I wasn’t sure what we’d think of this bottle.
The official-ish tasting notes say:
While the greatest of Burgundy’s Chardonnays are produced from the grand and premier cru vineyards of the CÃ´te de Beaune, those from MÃ¢connais, Chalonnais and the outlying zones of the CÃ´te d’Or are characterized by a unique crispness, elegance and finesse.
Jadot Chardonnay is vinified and blended exclusively from Chardonnay grapes selected from the production of numerous growers in the CÃ´te Chalonnais, the CÃ´te MÃ¢connais and the Hautes-CÃ´tes de Beaune, with a small proportion of superior village-level wines added in most vintages to improve the finished cuvÃ©e. As such, it must legally take the “Bourgogne Blanc” appellation. Styled to be fuller in body and structure than most of Jadot’s MÃ¢connais wines, it is partially fermented and aged in oak casks to add breadth to the ripe fruit notes. The lovely, elegant Chardonnay nose, offset by a gentle touch of vanilla, carries into excellent balance of medium-full fruit and acidity on the palate and a lingering finish.
The verdict? We didn’t like it quite as much as the Macon-Villages we tried the other night, but we did like it quite a bit. It had only a hint of butter on the palate, and the oak definitely came through. The finish had a bit of bark to it. It was pale yellow in color, with a tart, slightly fruity nose. It was, as you might expect, light and slightly acidic. It definitely did not have that heavy, overbearing Chardonnay taste, in bold, blinking font, and all caps, like you get with some Chardonnays, and Robert Mondavi, I’m looking at you. I could taste some green apple, a teeny bit of grassiness: fresh and different than what we were used to.
This is really cool, because now we can add another white to our growing list of wines we’re slowly starting to learn about (it’s more difficult to learn about wines you don’t care to drink).
I had ordered some wine from Stony Hill not long ago. I wanted the Riesling, but I could only order it as part of a three-pack that included a Chardonnay. I got the package yesterday, and noticed that it is notably Burgundian in style and that their “restrained style of winemaking creates a fruity, non-oaky, non-malolactic Chardonnay.” It’ll be interesting to contrast the French burgundy with a non-”Californian” California Chardonnay. But I’ll have to report back on that another day.