Why age a white wine?
I know that you will say that 96 per cent of all wine purchased in the USA, and probably here, is consumed within 24 hours. By the way, most white wine enjoyed on our Island consists of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, both of which are generally better fresh and young.
Chardonnay is the topic today and with the exception of one other variety, it has the most vineyard space for white production on our planet. Just for fun I will give a good bottle of Chardonnay to the first five folks that e-mail me the world’s most widely planted white wine grape and I will let you all know its name next week.
To be quite honest it is not always easy to sell older Chardonnay as many of us are programmed to seek young offerings, so with this in mind we will, for the months of May and June, reduce certain ones by 25 per cent and I will tell you their enjoyable drinking window of time. It is interesting to experience subtle changes such as the nutty and spice aspects becoming more obvious as the exuberance of young fruit fades a little.
The Mission Hill 2010 “Perpetua” Chardonnay hails from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Good acidity, stone fruits and green apples suggest a cool climate and this is possibly more conducive to longer ageing than warmer climate wines are able to accomplish. One critic estimates that it will do well until 2018 and most reviewers feel that an eight-year timeframe is appropriate for this gorgeous white. Was $39.65 and now $29.75.
On an evening in France, back in 2002, I was chatting with very well known Chablis producer Michel Laroche and he shared with our group a double magnum of one of his 1987 wines. It was still full of life! You should consider his 2009 Chablis Premier Cru “Les Vaillons” that is intense gold in colour with hints of flint in its complex nose, along with ripe pear and summer flowers. This Chardonnay would be expected to have an eight- to ten-year life. Was $40.30 and now $30.25. By the way, it was back during this 2002 meeting that Michel announced to the press that he was now offering a choice of screw cap or cork (the first to do so in Burgundy).
Laura Catena, along with her dad Nicolas Catena, runs the family winery in Argentina and to me it is the undisputed market leader. She also has her own very small production, Luca wines, that is named after her son. Robert Parker compares her Chardonnay to ones from California at twice the price or even more.
Luca Chardonnay 2011 is harvested from rock-strewn soils in Argentina’s highest vineyard.
It is complex and rich but not overly showy. Full-bodied with well-integrated pineapple, peach and crème brulé, it should be enjoyed by the end of this year. Remember that wines from the Southern Hemisphere are, time-wise, a season older than those of the same year in the North. $29.15 but on special for $21.10.
Mount Eden winery, high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just south of San Francisco, is known for making Chardonnays that are capable of very long lifespans. Let me quote what Robert Parker has to say about their 2010 Wolff Vineyard Chardonnay from the Edna Valley: “Wraps around the palate with hints of almonds, honey, fennel and dried pears. Anticipated maturity 2012-2015.” The Wine Spectator suggests drinking it through to the end of 2016. Was $31.80 and now only $23.85.
If you visit any of our retail outlets you will discover that, in addition to these mentioned Chardonnays, we have reduced a few others as well that really should be enjoyed over the next year or so while still showing at their best.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm.