A Summer Ode to Chardonnay
I have to admit, I’ve crashed a few parties in my adult life. In some instances, there’s a tiny prickle of guilt for showing up uninvited, but in this most recent incident, I feel no guilt whatsoever, only gladness.
It was the summer meeting of The Four Seasons Wine Club, and it occurred in my family’s house in upstate New York. For the last year and a half, my parents and three other couples have met once a season to taste a flight of fabulous wines with a fleet of increasingly ambitious dishes. The host couple chooses a different grape, decides whether it’s a comparison of “old world” (Europe) vs. “new world” (US, South America, Australia,etc), or all from one country or wine region, and creates a feast around the varietal. Each couple contributes two bottles.
Needless to say, my mother labors over each meal that she hosts with adorable acumen. She challenges herself relentlessly, and always manages to pull off the feat, though occasionally it’s by the skin on her teeth. At the Chardonnay dinner, I was put to work making a sauce choron to accompany her bass en croute the moment I arrived from the train station. The bass itself was so enormous it hardly fit in the oven, and hence on the platter it bowed slightly, as if it was swimming. We shared a big laugh in the kitchen trying to plate it.
I thought you wine and food lovers might be inspired by my dad’s notes on the myriad of Chardonnay poured with the menu of my mother’s homemade delicacies. This ought to give you a sense of what a lucky kiddo I am, stumbling into dinners such as this on a summer’s evening in my own home.
My chances of gaining access to the next one—a dinner at Oak Summit Vineyard owned by John Bruno—are slim, but given that the meal will revolve around “The Killer B’s”—Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello”—I may try to weasel my way in.
Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Champagne
Made 100% from Chardonnay grapes, the aroma, mousse and taste was as delicate and elegant as a fine French Champagne can be…a delightful aperitif from a fine small producer!
Rochioli South River Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 Russian River, Sonoma
Full, complex, sensual full aroma with engagingly broad flavors…impressive!
Brewer-Clifton Courtney’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 Santa Rita Hills, Central Coast
More than a bit over-the-top alcohol at 16%…I found this clumsy and more than a bit “hot”.
Chilled Lump Crabmeat Walnut Dijon Mustard Sauce
Montagny 1er Cru Clos de la Roche 2008 Louis Latour
Clearly French in style, this had a straight forward , but pleasant Chardonnay nose, good delicacy, and went down easily..
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets 1992 Domaine Ramonet
Handsome, 20 year maturity with generously complex scents and flavors…its lost some fruit, but remained thoroughly enjoyable, interesting and engaging at 20.
Wild Striped Bass en Croute Paul Bocuse Sauce Choron
Corton Charlemagne 1989 Domaine Michel Voirick
Although perfectly stored, this was a big disappointment: at 23, tired, no fruit and not worth drinking.
Batard Montrachet 1992 Domaine Leflaive
Also 20 years old, but from one of the best growers in Burgundy: Huge bouquet, powerful flavor profile, mouth-filling, long and memorable with a fascinating mineral profile. Wonderful!
Fromages de France & Cheeses from California
Kistler McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay 1993 Sonoma Mountain Vineyard
At 19, this very well vinted Chardonnay showed no real signs of age except a diminished fruit profile exchanged for sophisticated, broad flavors of Burgundian like complexity.
Peter Michael “Mont Plaisir” Chardonnay 1988 Napa Valley
Another great American Chardonnay that – at 24 years – exhibited an intensity of mineral like flavors, broad mouth-feel with long, lingering aftertaste.
Fruits of the Season
Cookies and Madeleines