July-August 2017. It was warm outside. Delhi’s infamous summer hovering just above the pavement, waiting to swell into a wave of commiseration and ladies with parasols at any moment. The sky between thunder and lead, the trees shedding their leaves, concentrating energies for the intense scorch to come. It was the evening of the Sommelier India Tasting Panel, an event ever guaranteed to be filled with lively conversation, contrasting tasting notes, earnest discussion and all-around bonhomie, says Judith Sciarone.
In the programme for the evening were Chardonnay wines from across the globe with the unfortunate exclusion of India’s production, whose bottles got stuck with a panel member who couldn’t attend. Of course, India produces a set of lovely wines from this versatile varietal and we shall undoubtedly dedicate a tasting session to these wines in a future issue.
What emerged from the Tasting was the varietal’s versatility. The well-selected wines were all true to their origin and, barring an oxidised number here and there, which allowed for personal tastes to be explored, scored well across the board.The wines tasted blind are listed below in no particular order.
Albert Bichot, Chablis LongDepaquit 2014, Burgundy, France
This wine opened the session immediately setting the tone for the evening. Fresh, mineral, crisp, with a well-built mouthfeel and seductive length it was a proud ambassador to its origins. MRP, Delhi Rs 4,910. From the editor’s cellar. Importer Aspri Wines & Spirits
Alex Lichine, Chardonnay 2011, Pays d’Oc, France
Past its prime and showing advanced oxidation, this wine sparked a lively discussion. Some of the panel’s members would pour it down the drain, where others would want to whip out a cheese board to pair with the nutty flavours reminiscent of a Manzanilla Sherry or of a Vin Jaune from Juras. From the editor’s cellar. MRP N/A.
Balduzzi, Chardonnay 2015, Maule Valley, Chile
This was another conversation-starter. With a smoky and flinty nose and quite some CO2 on the palate, it was definitely different. Importer Natures Bounty. MRP, Delhi Rs 1,650.
Barefoot Chardonnay 2016, California, USA
Sweet white peach notes and coconut flavours . Medium body, crisp acidity and creamy finish. Easy drinking but somewhat short on complexity and subtlety. Importer Lakeforest Wines Limited MRP, Gurgaon Rs 1,300.
Anakena, Chardonnay 2015, Central Valley, Chile
A clean, lively wine that was popular with everyone. Well balanced, great value, it had mineral and citrus notes whirling around a core of fresh stone fruit. Importer High Spirits Exim Pvt Ltd. MRP, Delhi Rs 1,490
Robert Mondavi, Private Selection Chardonnay 2014, Coastal California, USA
With a fresh and lively nose, well-integrated oak and refreshing character, this classic coastal chardonnay showed well. Importer Lakeforest wines Limited. MRP, Gurgaon Rs 3,250.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2014, Coastal California, USA
The definite notes of oxidation on the nose such as pineapple and nuts showed that this wine had lost some of its characteristic freshness. Some of us liked it a lot, others preferred to give it a pass. MRP, Delhi Rs 3,480. Importer Brindco Limited
Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2009, Casablanca Valley, Chile
A pungent nose of lychee and flowers, the mouth was somewhat imbalanced, with oak dominating delicate tropical flavours. From the editor’s cellar. Importer Brindco Limited. MRP N/A.