Twenty four hours of Chardonnay? When I heard the concept I was a little baffled. Previous online tasting events have been confined to a few short hours of frenzy and fury. 2000 tweets crammed into 2 hours can be pretty tough to tackle even for the most experienced twitter addict. The expanded time frame allows for other countries to participate in their own time zones and allows for a very relaxed tasting schedule.
Chardonnay? Really – why Chardonnay? I suppose when you think about it the much maligned US version of the grape isn’t really a great representation of what Chardonnay can be. There’s more to Chardonnay than apple pie and oak buttered toast. One of the most widely planted grapes in the world, Chardonnay is a wine makers grape that can take on many different characteristics shaped by the winemaker. The wine can be “naked,” fermented in stainless steel to showcase the pure essence of the grape. It can be fermented in combinations of new, used, American, or French oak to bring out various vanilla and cedar aroma. The grape can also undergo malolactic fermentation (conversion of tart apple citrus malic acid to smooth rich buttery lactic acid). Chardonnay is truly a world-wide grape with a wide range of appeal.
Hosted by St. Supery Winery’s Rick Bakas, the #Chardonnay tasting brought people together from all corners of the globe. During the tasting, I personally interacted with people from New Zealand, China, France, and South America. These type of events provide a vast opportunity to connect to other wine lovers and learn about the various manifestations of the wine. Rick has previously hosted #CaliCabs, #SauvBlanc, and #WineBlends. Each of these events has changed the way we think about online interaction and wine drinking.
Stats from www.wthashtag.com
#CaliCabs (February 11, 2010) 1400 tweets from 275 participants
#SauvBlanc (March 4, 2010) 2700 tweets from 610 participants
#WAMerlot (March 25) 1900 tweets from 480 participants
#WineBlends (April 1) Didn’t track but this analysis shows great participation
#Chardonnay (May 6) 2400 tweets from 605 participants
Activity for #Chardonnay was spread out over the course of the day which meant that I missed a good portion of the overseas tweets. The format allowed more people to participate on their own schedule but the saturation of tweets was diminished by the extended time.
During the event I had the privilege of tasting through four wines of various styles. The amazing observation was that each wine was completely different and unique and could never have been mistaken for the other. Each wine brought strengths to the table which made for a very fun review. The video is fast paced because I had to taste through four wines in under 8 minutes. Below are the notes and formal scores for each wine.
2009 St Supery Oak Free Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% estate fruit Chardonnay (Napa Valley) fermented in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. 13.7%abv
- The Swirl: Golden tone with green hues. There is a mild cloudiness to the wine.
- The Sniff: Bright dynamic citrus notes of lemon and granny smith apples. Seems fizzy on the nose
- The Sip: If I could take a wine and snap it like celery, this would have a sharp crack to it. The fruit play is moderately sour pineapple and grapefruit. The flavors are abundant and the acidity is on the high side. There is a slight effervescence that comes through. The finish is moderate.
- The Score: At $22, I score this wine a solid 3 out of 5. The score is lowered slightly because of the disjointed balance between the fruit, acidity and minerality. It’s a very refreshing wine that I would buy again to pair with spicy food or to take on the boat!
No cellar tracker reviews for 2009 vintage. 2008 vintage has 5 reviews with 87 pt average
2008 Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from winemaker Charlie Wagner. Fermented in concrete and stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation. 14.8%abv
- The Swirl: Yellow gold tone, clean and clear
- The Sniff: Subdued aroma of honeydew, pear and white tropical flowers. Mild yet intriguing
- The Sip: The impressive part of this wine is the balance from front to back. It does not present itself as an overly round Chardonnay flavor but instead brings hints of honeydew, perfume and minerality (concrete?). The acidity and finish are also very well balance making this wine good for either summer deck sipping or pairing with halibut, rockfish, shrimp, or pork.
- The Score: At $32 this is on the higher price range for most people’s Chardonnay budget but the beauty of the wine’s flavor, balance and finish score it a 3+ out of 5.
This wine comes in the most unique container. The 2008 Mer Soleil Silver is in a grey ceramic bottle.
No cellar tracker reviews for the 2008 vintage. 2007 vintage has 18 scores with 88 pt average
2006 Kiona Winery Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 85% Chardonnay, 9% Chenin Blanc, 3% Rousanne, 3% Viognier. Fermented in 75% stainless and 25% new oak; 13.7%abv with 2500 cases made
- The Swirl: Light pale straw, nearly clear in color. Medium viscosity
- The Sniff: The aromas are slightly disjointed with hints of pear and a baking spice or herb that throws it off a little.
- The Sip: The mouth feel is more reminiscent of a traditional Chardonnay without the heavy coating and thickness. The moderate melon and pear are thrown off by only what I can pinpoint as brown fruit or herbaciousness and soil. It lacks any significant acidity and the finish is limited.
- The Score: At only $10, this wine is no slouch but seems slightly off on the flavor profile. I score this wine 3 out of 5.
Check out JJ and Molly from Kiona Wine as they do a Chardonnay food and wine pairing video.
Cellar tracker score of 87 points on one review
2007 Mer Soleil Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% estate Chardonnay fermented in 100% new French oak (sorry, no other info)
- The Swirl: Very golden like a blond lager. The gold was so pure it seemed to ooze value and wealth.
- The Sniff: Beautiful notes of honey, sugar, and citrus melon. During a blind tasting of this wine (on another night) I pegged this wine as being the only oak fermented Chardonnay. It’s not overly oaked but the beauty of the vanilla comes through as a giveaway.
- The Sip: Wonderful mouth coating feel without being flabby and buttery. The aromas from the nose repeat themselves here with a balanced acidity that refreshed your palate and creates a crisp lengthy finish.
- The Score: At $35 this is a 4 (out of 5). The Mer Soleil Barrel Fermented Chardonnay brings credibility back to the process of using oak in a balanced and flavorful way. The regal Chardonnay fruit shines and presents a vast array of food pairing potential.
Cellar tracker score of 86 on 9 reviews
**Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intention to review