Thursday, February 26, 2009

Argentina Part Two - Chardonnay

I have survived another Mardi Gras. My voice is shot, but you can't tell that here. We'll stick with whites here for one more post (kind of nice for me, as it's supposed to be near 80 degrees today). So, on to some Chardonnay.
NQN Picada 15 White Blend 2007 - This wine hails from Patagonia, south of Mendoza, specifically Nequen which is cold, with near constant winds and little risk of disease or pests. It is produced at a cutting edge winery blazing a trail in the region. Okay, not technically a Chardonnay since it is also blended with Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Pinot Noir(!?!). We were all fascinated with this wine. It came in a clear glass bottle and had a bit of a funky deep yellow color, perhaps due to the Pinot Noir. Pear and citrus dominated the nose with even a hint of red fruits, or am I just expecting them since it has Pinot Noir in it? Bright, fresh acid, fun wine! It is exactly the kind of wine that would languish on most retail shelves - unusual color, weird blend, new region. However, the people who tried it would be rewarded as the price is fantastic. It would make a wonderful addition to most restaurant by the glass lists. It is what I call a geek wine, but it has wider appeal if you can get it in their glass. 2nd day - The nose has faded, but the palate is still good. It held up fine. 3rd day - More subtle, subdued now, but also more of the Pinot Noir is showing on nose and palate. Imported by Pinnacle International. $10-$12.
Finca La Linda Chardonnay 2007 - unoaked - The grapes come from Lujan de Cuyo immediately south of the city of Mendoza, but in the northern portion of the appellation Mendoza. The vineyards are located over 3,000 feet above sea level despite being located in a picturesque valley. The wine features pear and melon on the nose, with crisp acid and good weight - especially for unoaked Chardonnay - but it may be too crisp for most dedicated Chardonnay drinkers. However, there is leaner, less exuberant fruit, and a talcy dryness on the finish that will help it to pair well with lighter seafood. Overall the wine is solid, but missable, although I found it got better with time open. 2nd day - More roundness, riper, fuller in the mouth, but still crisp. 3rd day - I like it even more, better balance and showing more Chardonnay character. Importer - Gaucho Imports. $10-$12 (although I did see an $18 price listed).
Alamos Chardonnay 2007 - From the Catena family that also produces Catena Zapata, this Chardonnay undergoes, "moderate oak aging in French oak." The fruit is all Mendoza with a concentration from Tupungato. This is the most western region, i.e. closest to the Andes, in the appellation of Mendoza and lies south of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu. Vanilla appears immediately in the aromas, courtesy of the French oak. The wine is decent, classic, slightly oaky Chardonnay. The only reason to move to this from another style you may like is price, a desired change of pace, or if you want to offer something from Argentina. There is nothing unique offered by this bottling. Although I find it generic, it is well made and that might push it up to a quality level not often seen at this price point. 2nd day -No change. Importer - Billington Distributors. $10-$12.
Our other moderately oaked style was, unfortunately, corked.
El Cipres Chardonnay 2007 - unoaked - All Mendoza fruit, with a lot coming from Maipu, near Lujan de Cuyo. I wondered if this was all Chardonnay as there were some floral aromas that surprised me. Very floral notes, almost spearmint gum(?), maybe freshen-up(?). The body is thin, almost dilute, something is missing for me. Not a bad wine, just does not taste like Chardonnay. Is there Viognier here perhaps? I find this to be an unfortunate example of unoaked Chardonnay. 2nd day - Bad fruit, tastes oxidized, "whoa, not good." I will qualify this though, other tasters enjoyed it, "respectable, unoaked example", a smiley face, and a vote to make it the number one choice of the Chards. Importer - Pinnacle International. $10-$13
Next we get into the reds - see you in a day or two.

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