International Chardonnay Day 2019

International Chardonnay Day is coming up on Thursday, May 23rd. To celebrate, I’d like to share a reprint of my favorite chardonnays. You can read that blog from 2017 here. That list hasn’t changed except for adding one – the Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay from my most recent post. I love this chardonnay from Hunter Valley’s Scarborough Winery!

As I travel more of Australia and taste more of these delightful wines, the more time I want to spend in this lovely land of sunshine!

So chardy lovers, raise a glass next week and celebrate International Chardonnay Day! I’ll be thinking of you!

Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay

Image of Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay from their museum collection
Scarbourgh 2013 Chardonnay from their museum collection

On a recent trip to Australia, I had the good fortune to visit the Hunter Valley for a long weekend of wine tasting. And what a gorgeous wine region!

Our first stop was the delightful Scarborough Winery where we were treated to a first class, sit down wine tasting at a linen covered table cloth in their dining room. I fell in love with this winery at first glance. Quiet. Elegant. This was an exceptional wine tasting experience.

Walked through our wine tasting by the super friendly, knowledgeable wine server, we sampled two current release chardonnays from their Classic Range and one from their Obsessive Range. But it was this Classic Yellow Label Scarborough 2013 from their museum collection that caught my attention and came home in my suitcase. (I know. The name “yellow label” conjures up images of another Australian wine that’s not so great. But this Scarborough Yellow Label chardonnay is not related, and it’s delicious!)

Aromas of pear, pineapple, peach and biscuit can be found in the nose. It’s medium bodied with a soft, round finish. Its flavor evokes mild stone fruit, perhaps partly from the peachy aroma. It’s a complex wine that keeps delivering more flavors. The color is golden yellow and the alcohol content is 13.5%. At six years old, this wine doesn’t suffer from its age – it was made to last. Back in 2016, the wine critics were recommending laying it down for a couple of years. Perhaps it’s because it was fermented and aged on lees in French oak for 12 months.

The best part of this wine? It was under $20. Can’t make it to “the Hunter?” Try wine-searcher.com or contact the winery directly. And come back again soon for more wine tasting in Australia…

Nazaaray Chardonnay 2017 from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula

Where have you been Chardy Girl? I’ve been to Australia, sampling chardonnays from one side of the country to the other. And I’m so excited to share more about my adventures!

But today, I want to tell you about a wine I tasted in the Mornington Peninsula just outside of Melbourne, Australia. This is one of the prettiest wine regions in Australia. This area has it all – beaches, sun, and wine tasting.

We rented a house from one of the local wineries in the town of Rosebud – Nazaaray – and they left a bottle of chardonnay for us as a welcome gift. How could they have known?

I employed my favorite wine tasting partner, Gary, and our daughter (who does not like chardonnay!) in sampling this delightful wine. Here are our thoughts:

Australia’s chardonnays are typically lighter in flavor and body than the California chardonnays I’m used to. This one is lightly toasted oak with a hint of vanilla in the nose. So far so good. The body is light, the wine is clean, and the color is pale straw yellow. It has a soft mouth feel with a smooth finish.

My fellow wine drinkers agreed, it’s elegant and clean. It was aged for over 10 months. Malolactic fermentation was part of the process.

The chardonnay sells for $45 Australian dollars or about $32 US dollars. The winery itself is gorgeous. If you find yourself in the Melbourne area, I highly recommend a visit to the Mornington Peninsula. You’ll love the wines, the beauty of this region, and the close proximity of the wineries to each other and to the beach towns of the Peninsula.

Nazaaray Chardonnay 2017 – Mornington Peninsula

Langmeil 2014 Spring Fever – Barossa

Hello and Happy New Year! It’s been awhile since I posted a review, and for all my chardonnay loving friends, I apologize.

Things have been crazy in our world. We took a much-anticipated trip to Hawaii. We met our daughter, who lives in Australia, and spent Christmas in Maui. What a heavenly place to spend the holiday!

Plus, Gary, my favorite wine tasting partner, and I have been busy these past few months with more travel writing assignments. With several articles recently published and several more in the works, I’ve been distracted!

Langmeil 2014 Spring Fever Chardonnay from Barossa

But that’s no excuse for not doing my job, so today I am continuing with Australian chardonnays. I just love Australian wine. They are almost always bottled with screw caps which means you can get to the golden nectar that much faster!

Today, I am trying a chardonnay from Australia’s famous Barossa wine region. I usually think of this wine region for shiraz, but this bottle from Langmeil, caught my eye at our local grocery store.

The color is pale yellow, almost as light as champagne. When I first opened the bottle, the nose had a distinct aroma of oak, but that quickly dissipated, replaced by hints of honeysuckle and daphne.

Subtle melon and nectarine flavors, in combination with the soft, sweet perfume in the nose, made for a unique, but attractive chardonnay. I can’t say I’ve tasted one quite like it before, but I will definitely pick up another bottle again. This is an easy drinking chardonnay on its own, but it paired very nicely, too, with petite breakfast brie and fig jam.

This is a clean, well made, polished chardonnay, yet the body is mellow with a creamy finish. At 2014, it aged well, and at under $15, is very attractive.

I found it at our local Nugget Market, which carries a wide variety of imported as well as local wines, but you can buy it online at Marquis Wines or check Wine Searcher.

I don’t believe the winery sells the 2014 anymore, but it’s worth an inquiry directly with the winery, if you’re in Australia. Langmeilwinery.com.au

Cheers and here’s to many more months of happy wine tasting in 2018!


Terra Felix 2014 – Victoria, Australia

Thank goodness for that handy invention, bubble wrap wine skins. They really do work and we have been able to safely bring home wines from Australia, France, Italy, Argentina, Chile and Washington state (which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine – but that’s another wine, another blog).

Today, I’m tasting one more Australian wine we purchased from Wine Selectors and brought home with us last summer. This 2014 Terra Felix chardonnay comes from a single vineyard in the foothills of Mount Buffalo near Myrtleford in Alpine Valley, Victoria. Terra Felix means “The Lucky Country” in Latin, the way that owner Peter Simon’s father viewed Australia when he immigrated from Austria.

At first, the bouquet displays a faint vanilla scent with nutty oak overtones. As the wine opens up, the oak becomes more pronounced.

This medium bodied chardonnay has a light golden color. The mouthfeel is clean with crisp acidity in the finish. Flavors of citrus zest, apple and grapefruit come through.

We paired this wine with a Brie du Pommier, an aromatic artisan organic cheese from France and seasoned, seed covered flatbread crackers. The wine held up well to this rather flavorful combination.

The wine sells for $25 Australian dollars at Wine Selector.


Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards – 2015 Margaret River

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards 2015

From the Margaret River, Western Australia, the Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards, delivers another delicious chardonnay. With its cool climate, this is a region that produces the style of chardonnay I prefer.

The color of the wine, Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards 2015, is bright, clear and light yellow in color. The nose displays aromas of ripe pears, fig, crème brulee, and slight oak. Subtle fruit flavors of peaches and apple, with a hint of biscuit, make this an easy drinking wine. The style is clean and light, almost refreshing in taste, with a medium body. It is 14.0% in alcohol.

One of the many that we purchased on our trip to Australia, I bought this one at Dan Murphy’s in Melbourne. For our USA readers, it’s available at FineWineHouse.com for $35.98. Or, you can just hop on a plane and head to Australia and taste all these yummy chardonnays I’ve been writing about these past few months, and see for yourself. It’s a long flight, so you’ll want to stay awhile. ?


Dog Ridge Butterfingers Chardonnay – McLaren Vale 2016

Somewhere in the McLaren Vale wine region, South Australia, lives a winemaker after my own heart. Determined to reintroduce a style of chardonnay that has gone out of favor in Australia, Fred Howard of Dog Ridge Winery began making an old-fashioned, creamy, buttery chardonnay called “Butterfingers.”

Dog Ridge Butterfingers Chardonnay

In fact, enamored with Fred’s new/old style of chardonnay, Harry Fisher from The Times on the Coast, in Victor Harbor, Australia, wrote a story about “Chardonnay Recovered from Fumble.” A copy of that article proudly graces the back label of every bottle of Butterfingers. Fisher writes, “A local winemaker is winding back the clock and looking to bring bold and full-bodied chardonnays back in to popularity with a new generation of wine drinkers.”

Chardonnay recovered from fumble

Introduced to this charming, energetic winemaker at the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show, we got a chance to stop by Fred’s booth, taste his wines, and learn more about his passion for making what I call the “old-fashioned” style of chardonnay. You know – the kind I’m always hunting for…

So, of course, I brought a bottle of this golden sunshine home with me from Australia. Aged in brand new French oak barrels, this chardonnay is lightly oaked. It’s golden in color, clean, clear and well, just plain pretty! Aromas of crème brulee and pear with a faint, sweet floral note fill the glass. It is a full structured, big, round, creamy and luscious wine, with flavors of stone fruit. The wine is 13.5% in alcohol.

We paid $20.00 AUD ($15.79 USD) for this chardonnay at the food and wine show, most likely a promotional price. But, it can be purchased for $27.99 AUD at BlackSheepBottleShop.com.au or $25.00 AUD on the Dog Ridge website.

McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide is one wine region we didn’t make it to when we visited Adelaide three years ago. With only time for one wine tour, we chose the famous Barossa Valley. But now that I’ve tasted several wines from the McLaren Vale, I’m definitely anxious to visit when we return to Australia. The list is growing longer with the Margaret River wine region calling my name and the Hunter Valley still on my bucket list. Mornington Peninsula, just outside of Melbourne and an easy side trip from Sydney, also came highly recommended. Until then, I’ll be saving my pennies for a return trip to this lovely wine producing country. Australia, keep making those lovely chardonnays. I’m coming back!


Cassein Chardonnay 2016 and Richard Hamilton Signature Chardonnay 2015

Through all of my “research” here in Australia, I’ve learned that winemakers in this country, like elsewhere, have shifted from making the “old” style of round, buttery, full-bodied chardonnay, opting for a leaner, unoaked style that tends to let the flavor of the chardonnay grape come through. In fact, I’ve tasted a few of those over the past several weeks and they aren’t too bad.

There are, fortunately, still plenty of winemakers out there, particularly in the Margaret River, Orange and Yarra wine regions that are still making my style of chardonnay. Thanks to a knowledgeable wine server at a Dan Murphy’s in Melbourne, a sales rep for Wine Selectors based out of the Sydney Airport Domestic Terminal, and numerous wine makers and experts at the recent Sydney Good Food and Wine Show, I’ve started finding those round and luscious chardonnays that still exist in Australia! It really does help to hunt around and ask other people…

Two rich and full bodied chardonnays from Australia.

The two wines I’m reviewing were purchased from Wine Selectors, a company that represents boutique wineries from all over Australia. Without signing up for a wine club, or committing to any recurring orders, you can just become a member and order wines by the six pack or by the case, at a reasonable price. We ordered a six pack of chardonnays “for lovers of the rich style” to sample a few. Today I’m reviewing the Cassegrain Chardonnay 2016 and the Richard Hamilton Adelaide Hills Signature Single Vineyard 2015.

The Cassegrain Chardonnay comes from the cool climate of the Central Ranges of New South Wales. There are notes of tropical fruit with hints of hazelnut and creme Brule. Pale yellow in color, clean and bright, this medium bodied wine ends with a soft, round finish. It has layers of stone fruit and hints of pineapple. I find the Cassegrain Chardonnay to be delicious and imminently drinkable.

The winery sells this wine for $23.95 a bottle, but we paid closer to $15 through Wine Selectors. Enjoy with chicken, fish or seafood, or simply by itself.

The Richard Hamilton Adelaide Hills Signature Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, of course, hails from the Adelaide Hills. The oak in the nose is a little too strong for my taste so let it breathe for a few minutes before sipping. Another light golden yellow, but clean and bright wine, it is elegant, stylish and full bodied. Fruit flavors come through in the taste.

The winery sells this for $30.00 a bottle, but again, through Wine Selectors, the cost was approximately $15.00. Enjoy with poultry, seafood or pasta.


Celebrating International Chardonnay Day with a List of My Favorites

Tasting Chardonnay at Bogle Vineyards

Dedicated to finding that perfect chardonnay, I’ve been tasting and blogging about my favorite varietal for almost two years. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed, so thanks for following my experiments and adventures.

People often ask me if I’ve found the perfect chardonnay yet and I must say, “No.” Because when I find the perfect chardonnay, the hunt is over and I won’t need to write this blog anymore. But, I will share with you my favorite chardonnays, just in case you haven’t figured a few out by reading my blog. Not in any particular order, here are my favs:

  • Matchbook Winery’s Arsonist Chardonnay – This is a beautiful winery, up the road on Interstate 5, past Woodland, near the town of Zamora, looking over the gorgeous Dunnigan Hills. At different times, they’ve made up to five different chardonnays, but the Arsonist is my favorite.
  • La Crema’s Nine Barrel and Russian River Valley Chardonnays – La Crema actually makes nine different chardonnays and this is the perfect winery (in Sonoma County) to try a side by side chardonnay tasting. Ask for Lisa and she’ll set you up.
  • Alpha Omega Chardonnay– I just reviewed this one and it is almost perfect (except it’s a little pricey for my blood). But, I thank my dear friends and neighbors for introducing me to this Napa Valley wine. They are wine club members, thankfully, so they didn’t pay full price. It’s worth a splurge once in a while.
  • Bogle Reserve Chardonnay – I can’t believe I have never reviewed this wine. I checked all my blogs and there is not one review. Sure, I’ve written about Bogle for Sacramento Lifestyle Magazine (twice) and written about the winery in my blog, but no chardonnay review. I’ll rectify that soon, but in the meantime, visit the winery and try this wine!

Together, we’ve covered chardonnays from other parts of the world as well as my own backyard. I’ve had the good fortune to visit wineries in Sonoma, Paso Robles, Mendocino, Amador, the Delta, South America, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and most recently, France. Winetasting along the way is one of the most wonderful aspects of travel.

It’s been a blast and everywhere I find wonderful, delicious chardonnay. In fact, chardonnay carries the distinction as the world’s most famous white wine and most widely planted grape. So, it’s fitting that there is an International Chardonnay Day, today, May 25, 2017.

On this most special (to me) of days, we are headed to the land of Oz, where the nickname, “Chardy Girl” was penned and stuck. (You can read the original story here.) The lucky Aussies, they have a whole month to celebrate wine, from May 1 – 31. Our plane arrives just in time to help them celebrate by tasting some of those delicious Yarra Valley chardonnays.

And you know what that means! The next few blogs will be featuring Australian chardonnays. So enjoy! Happy International Chardonnay Day! Cheers!

 

 


Mallee Point Chardonnay from Australia

Malle Point Chardonnay 2014 – Casella Winery

One more Australian chardonnay from Total Wines, this one was only $6.99. I mentioned in my last blog that our daughter moved to Australia, so we are getting reacquainted with Australian chardonnay. Unfortunately, Total Wines did not have a lot to choose from on our last visit there, but what the heck, we’re having fun drinking Australian wine and thinking of our daughter “down under.”

This wine hails from South Eastern Australia, which we learned is a large wine growing area where wineries may grow or purchase grapes from several different vineyards to blend together and maintain consistency for their particular brand and varietal.

The bouquet in this wine has hints of coconut and oak. It’s a medium bodied wine, medium yellow in color, with some peach and some melon notes with nuances of green apple. The wine is not particularly complex or flavorful but chilled and served as a party wine, it would be okay.

We’ll be making a trip back to Australia soon and plan to visit both the Yarra Valley (one of the most beautiful wine regions I have seen) and Hunter Valley, both well known for chardonnay. In fact, I think Yarra may be similar to Sonoma County. They both specialize in chardonnay and pinot noir and their cool climates.

Stay tuned, Mate!