July-August 2017. It was warm outside.Â Delhiâ€™s infamous summer hovering just aboveÂ the pavement, waiting to swell into a wave ofÂ commiseration and ladies with parasols at anyÂ moment. The sky between thunder and lead, the treesÂ shedding their leaves, concentrating energies for theÂ intense scorch to come. It was the evening of the SommelierÂ India Tasting Panel, an event ever guaranteed to be filledÂ with lively conversation, contrasting tasting notes, earnestÂ discussion and all-around bonhomie, saysÂ Judith Sciarone.
In the programmeÂ for the evening were Chardonnay wines from across the globe with the unfortunate exclusion of Indiaâ€™s production,Â whose bottles got stuck with a panel member who couldnâ€™tÂ attend. Of course, India produces a set of lovely wines from this versatile varietal and we shall undoubtedly dedicate aÂ tasting session to these wines in a future issue.
What emerged from the Tasting was the varietalâ€™sÂ versatility. The well-selected wines were all true to their origin and,Â barring an oxidised number here and there, which allowed forÂ personal tastes to be explored, scored well across the board.The wines tasted blind are listed below in no particular order.
Albert Bichot, Chablis LongDepaquitÂ 2014,Â Burgundy, France
This wine opened the session immediatelyÂ setting the tone for the evening. Fresh, mineral,Â crisp, with a well-built mouthfeel and seductiveÂ length it was a proud ambassador to its origins.Â MRP, DelhiÂ Rs 4,910. From the editorâ€™s cellar.Â Importer Aspri Wines & Spirits
Alex Lichine, Chardonnay 2011,Â Pays dâ€™Oc, FranceÂ Â
Past its prime and showing advanced oxidation,Â this wine sparked a lively discussion. Some ofÂ the panelâ€™s members would pour it down theÂ drain, where others would want to whip out aÂ cheese board to pair with the nutty flavoursÂ reminiscent of a Manzanilla Sherry or of aÂ Vin Jaune from Juras. Â From theÂ editorâ€™s cellar.Â MRP N/A.
Balduzzi, Chardonnay 2015,Â Maule Valley, Chile
This was another conversation-starter. With aÂ smoky and flinty nose and quite some CO2Â on the palate, it was definitely different. Â Importer Natures Bounty.Â MRP,Â DelhiÂ Rs 1,650.
Barefoot Chardonnay 2016,Â California, USA
Sweet white peach notes and coconutÂ flavoursÂ . Medium body, crisp acidityÂ and creamy finish. Easy drinking but somewhat short on complexity andÂ subtlety. Importer Lakeforest Wines LimitedÂ MRP, GurgaonÂ Rs 1,300.
Anakena, Chardonnay 2015,Â Central Valley, Chile
A clean, lively wine that was popular withÂ everyone. Well balanced, great value, itÂ had mineral and citrus notes whirlingÂ around a core of fresh stone fruit. Importer High Spirits Exim Pvt Ltd.Â MRP, Delhi Rs 1,490
Robert Mondavi, Private SelectionÂ Chardonnay 2014,Â Coastal California, USA
With a fresh and lively nose, well-integratedÂ oak and refreshing character, this classicÂ coastal chardonnay showed well. Importer Lakeforest wines Limited.Â MRP,Â Gurgaon Rs 3,250.
Kendall-Jackson Vintnerâ€™s ReserveÂ Chardonnay 2014,Â Coastal California, USA
The definite notes of oxidation on the noseÂ such as pineapple and nuts showed thatÂ this wine had lost some of its characteristicÂ freshness. Some of us liked it a lot, othersÂ preferred to give it a pass. MRP, Delhi Rs 3,480.Â Importer Brindco Limited
Montes AlphaÂ Chardonnay 2009, Casablanca Valley, Chile
A pungent nose of lychee and flowers,Â the mouth was somewhat imbalanced,Â with oak dominating delicate tropicalÂ flavours.Â From the editorâ€™sÂ cellar. Importer Brindco Limited.Â MRP N/A.