Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Best of Niagara: Chardonnay

The terroir of the Niagara Peninsula offers many amazing plots for growing Chardonnay which empart unique characteristics to the wine. This supports the trend to release single-vineyard Chardonnays by many of the region's top producers. Blends are also popular, but many wineries prefer to showcase the multiple single vineyard Chardonnays they produce which allow for side-by-side comparison. A fun and tasty experience.

The use of oak varries from producer to producer. Style, terroir and budget affect each wine's selected oak treatment, including many fine un-oaked Chardonnays on the market. Below is a selection of the Chardonnays, both oaked and otherwise, sorted by price point, that we feel are the best of Niagara:

$20 and below:

Fielding Estate Winery 2009 Un-Oaked Chardonnay - $15.95
Aromas of lemon drops are followed by orchard and citrus fruit flavours. easy going, summer sipper at a great price. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
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Chateau des Charmes 2007 St. David's Bench Vineyard Chardonnay - $20
Château des Charmes produces two single-vineyard Chardonnays. The St. David's Bench Vineyard Chardonnay, from the home vineyard (and further from the lake than the Paul Bosc Vineyard), is the warmer, more feminine of the two. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
$30 and below:

Chateau des Charmes 2006 Paul Bosc Vineyard Chardonnay - $22
Barrel fermented, the wine spends one year in French Oak "sur lie" and as a result has some of the leesy and autolytic notes one would expect. However, it is the stonefruit and mineral qualities that characterize this wine. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
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Le Clos Jordanne 2007 Village Reserve Chardonnay - $25
The entry-level Chardonnay from Le Clos Jordanne is far from a bottom feeder. Good concentration of aromas and flavours of classic orchard fruits with good minerality. A blend of fruit grown on the winery's 3 main vineyards. Where to buy: LCBO stores and Jackson-Triggs Niagara.

Thirty Bench Estate Winery 2007 Small Lot Chardonnay - $30
A superb example of a restrained, complex and very tasty Beamsville Bench Chardonnay. This wine is a master-class on the balance of sugar to acid and the balance of fruit to mineral flsvours and aromas. Both are done beautifully. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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$40 and below:

Hidden Bench Estate Winery 2008 Estate Chardonnay - $32
Brilliant in every way. Concentration, crispness and character. Simply devine Chardonnay with present but not overdone oak treatment. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.
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Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Reserve Chardonnay - $35
This focused and concentrated Chardonnay is a blend of two clones, 76 and 95, grown in the vineyard surrounding our the estate. Where to buy: Direct from winery or online.

Tawse Wines 2008 Quarry Road Chardonnay - $35
Organic and Biodynamic farming practice combined with an excellent terroir to create an extremely intense and refined Chardonnay. Big fruit and big mineral aromas and flavours. Exquisite. Where to buy: Direct from winery and LCBO.

Le Clos Jordanne 2007 Claystone Terrace Chardonnay - $40
Won the "Judgement in Montreal" tasting and beat-out top Burgundy and California Chardonnays. More concentrated and focused than the Village Reserve release. Where to buy: LCBO stores and Jackson-Triggs Niagara.

- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2010

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