A Tasting for the ABC Crowd: Make-up on Your Chardonnay?

Last Friday I went to a Chablis tasting at Bay Grape featuring the wines of superstar producer Patrick Piuze. When I began to taste the first pour of the flight, I noticed a woman looking at me. So I smiled. She mentioned that she does not like Chardonnay because of all the oak and butter.

A teachable moment.

I empathized, sharing how I know there are a lot of ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) wine drinkers out there. I also shared with her how the Chardonnay she described is just one  style and so she should not give up on it – it can be dry and without a trace of oak or butter, like the Chablis I was drinking.

Later on I saw that she and her companion both had the flight and so I had to ask: “What do you think?”

In response, I got a smile, a note of surprise and enjoyment.  Yeah!

When chatting with Patrick Puize about wine and the California style of Chardonnay, he said aid that what those producers were doing was akin to putting “too much make-up on.”

Indeed, too much make-up disguises the true quality of the grape and, if you are a good winemaker, you don’t disguise but rather allow the true quality of the grape to express itself.

IMHO, if for some reason you want to put on make-up, go light to enhance the features and forgo creating a creature that makes people hate a grape.

The line-up of Chablis:

2014 Chablis Terroir de Courgis  – an accessible style with more fruit but hardly fruity, the minerality of the limestone soil shines through.

2014 Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonerree – this vineyard never gets any direct sunlight and so as you would image, this is not about the fruit profile as it is about everything else – delicious. My favorite of the night.

The final taste was not Chablis at all but a rose´ Cremant that was a collaborative project—a tasty rose sparkler of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Alas, if only Dungeness crab season had not been postponed, I would have started my Thanksgiving meal with cracked crab and a glass of steely Chablis! Instead, I will have to pair it with oysters.

Let the festive season begin!

And remember:

DON’T DO THIS.

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DO THIS.

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