White, Chardonnay, WINE

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Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France, but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a "rite of passage" and an easy entry into the international wine market. A peak in popularity in the late 1980s gave way to a backlash among those wine connoisseurs who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalization of wine. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most widely planted grape varieties worldwide. The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from stainless steel and concrete fermentations to new oak barrel fermentions, from zero malo-lactic seconardy fermentation to full malo-lactic fermentation. Climate and topography also play decisive roles in the style of the wines.

Chardonnay is the dominant white grape in Burgundy. In addition to Chablis, Chardonnay is found in the Côte d'Or (largely in the Côte de Beaune), as well as the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. The apex of Chardonnay is found in the grands crus — Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, as well as Charlemagne, Corton-Charlemagne, and Le Musigny. In addition to being the most expensive, the Burgundy examples of Chardonnay were long considered the benchmark standard of expressing terroir through Chardonnay. The Montrachets are noted for their high alcohol levels, often above 13%, as well as deep concentration of flavors. The vineyards around Chassagne-Montrachet tend to produce wines that have a characteristic hazelnut aroma to them, while those of Puligny-Montrachet have more steely flavors. Both grand cru and premier cru examples from Corton-Charlemagne have been known to demonstrate marzipan, while Meursault wines tend to be the most round and plush examples. Well-made examples of white Burgundy from the Côte d'Or need at least three years in the bottle to develop enough to express the aromas and character of the wine. South of the Côte d'Or are the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais wine regions. The villages of Mercurey and Rully are the most prominent producers of Chardonnay in the Côte Chalonnaise, with the best-made examples rivaling those of the Côte de Beaune. In the Mâconnais, the full-bodied wines of the Pouilly-Fuissé have long held cult wine status with prices that can rival the grand cru white burgundies, while the elegant, mineral-driven wines of Viré-Clessé are gaining increasing recognition.

Chardonnay is the only permitted grape in the Chablis AOC. The region's famous Kimmeridgian limestone soils give the wines their trademark austerity and racy vibrance. The French describe this soil as argilo-calcaire, a composition of clay, limestone, and fossilized oyster shells. The most expensive examples of Chardonnay from Chablis come from the seven Grand Cru vineyards — Blanchots, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur, and Vaudésir. The wines from these crus most often capture the goût de pierre à fusil or "gunflint" quality that is characteristic of Chablis wine. The Chardonnay made in the Chablis region is one of the "purest" expressions of the varietal character of the grape due to the simplistic style of winemaking favored in this region. Chablis winemakers want to emphasise the terroir of the calcareous soil and cooler climate that help maintain high acidity. The wines rarely go through malolactic fermentation or oak treatment (though its use is increasing).

In Champagne, Chardonnay is one of three major grape varieties. In the Côte des Blancs (white slope) district, Chardonnay thrives on the chalk soil. The three main villages around the Côte grow Chardonnay that emphasizes certain characteristics that the Champagne producers seek depending on their house style. The village of Avize grows grapes that produce the lightest wines, Cramant makes the most aromatic, and Mesnil produces wines with the most acidity. The Côte des Blancs is the only district in the Champagne region predominately planted with Chardonnay, which accounts for its reputation as the finest of Blanc de Blancs wines in the region. Chardonnay grapes in Champagne rarely attain full ripeness due to the low annual mean temperature of the region. Therefore, the Chardonnay grapes do not fully develop their fruit flavors, and the still wines of Champagne are typically so lean and acidic as to be undrinkable. Consequently, the element in Chardonnay that Champagne wine-makers look for is the finesse and balance of acidity that it brings to the blend. Some flavors that can emerge, particularly with extended time on its lees, include creamy and nuttiness with some floral notes.

Chardonnay in the New World is indisputably defined by the California style, which focuses on advanced ripening and densely concentrated fruit profiles, all of which are often enhanced by full malolactic fermentation and aging in new oak barrels. These practices, especially as expressed in Napa Valley versions of Chardonnay, give the wines their characteristic highly alcoholic butter and vanilla profiles that made them so widely popular with US consumers over the past three decades. However, recent years have seen a shift toward more nuanced, balanced expressions from the state's cooler AVAs, such as Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, and Sonoma Coast. Producers throughout the New World have repeatedly tried their hands at Chardonnay cultivation with mixed results. Some of the most successful projects have emerged in other cool-climate regions, such as Margaret River in Western Australia, and the Western Cape regions of South Africa. New World Chardonnay as a whole is characterized by tropical and tree fruit profiles, noticeably lacking in the strident minerality and indicators of terroir so commonly found in Old World styles from France.

Thanks to its fairly neutral palate, Chardonnay provides a canvas for winemakers all over the world to practice their techniques to varying results, which explains its role as a cornerstone varietal of the white wine world.

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92 points Tim Atkin, MW (Jan 2017). 91-92 points Stephen Tanzer (Vinous): (tasted from tank; from a hillside site rich in white marl soil): Bright, light yellow. Musky lemon and lime aromas are complicated by white flowers and chalk. Densely flavored and intense, showing inviting sweetness to its… ...

TA 92
ST 91-92
AM 90-92
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Lamy/Hubert St-Aubin 1er cru Derriere Chez Edouard 2015  (#332348)

Chardonnay from St.-Aubin, Côtes de Beaune, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
TA 92
ST 91-92
AM 90-92
PRE-ARRIVAL
$49.95
$67.00
Save $17.05 (25%)67.00
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94 points and 'Editors' Choice,' Wine Enthusiast: Lingua Franca, a Larry Stone/Dominique Lafon project, offers a challenging, absorbing lineup of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. The Avni bottling is tangy and tight, with white peach and melon fruit and hints of toasted nuts and butter. The finish… ...

WE 94
WS 93
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Lingua Franca Chardonnay Willamette Valley Avni 2015  (#331017)

Chardonnay from Willamette Valley, Oregon

750ml Bottle | In stock, 5 available

97 points Tim Atkin, MW: If you love this wine -- and can afford to buy it -- do your utmost to get hold of some, because there won t be any in frost-ravaged 2016. This is the latest in a succession of stunning Montrachets from this domaine: tight, backward and still closed, but with depth and power… ...

JG 98
FWR 95-98
TA 97
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Comtes Lafon Montrachet 2015  (#331809)

Chardonnay from Côtes de Beaune, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
JG 98
FWR 95-98
TA 97
$2195.00

93 points Tim Atkin, MW (Jan 2017). 90-92 points Neal Martin (Wine Advocate): ...from vines on hard limestone and some parts suffered some hydric stress... It has a rather austere bouquet at the moment with reluctant flint and smoky scents developing in the glass. The palate is fresh and crisp on… ...

TA 93
WA 90-92
ST 90-92
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Lamy/Hubert St-Aubin 1er cru Clos de la Chateniere 2015  (#332347)

Chardonnay from St.-Aubin, Côtes de Beaune, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 9 available
TA 93
WA 90-92
ST 90-92
PRE-ARRIVAL
$59.95
$90.00
Save $30.05 (33%)90.00
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93 points Allen Meadows (Burghound): ...There is elevated ripeness to the openly exotic nose of yellow fruit, lemon and white flower aromas... possesses exceptionally rich, overtly powerful and imposing big-bodied flavors that despite the impressive size and weight, retain a fine sense of precision… ...

AM 93
ST 92
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Long-Depaquit (Albert Bichot) Chablis Les Clos 2010  (#330658)

Chardonnay from Chablis, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$49.95
$75.00
Save $25.05 (33%)75.00
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94 points Tim Atkin, MW: Fermented in 20% larger oak, this comes from two parcels - one in Chapelots, the other in Montée de Tonnerre itself. It s quite a sweet, sunny, stone fruity Chablis with some vanilla spice, a hint of nectarine and a pithy, tangy, grapefruity finish. 2017-21. (Jan 2017) ...

TA 94
WA 92
AM 89-92
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Billaud/Samuel Chablis 1er cru Montee de Tonnerre 2015  (#330002)

Chardonnay from Chablis, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
TA 94
WA 92
AM 89-92
$43.95
$52.00
Save $8.05 (16%)52.00
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Leroux sources the fruit for his village Chassagne-Montrachet from a parcel in the lieu-dit Voillenot Dessous, planted circa 1960. The terroir here is similar to Les Morgeots, with generous soil of rich clay. The fruit is hand-harvested and sorted, and the wine is aged in used, 300L oak barrels,… ...

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Leroux/Benjamin Chassagne-Montrachet 2015  (#330483)

Chardonnay from Chassagne-Montrachet, Côtes de Beaune, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 5 available

86-89 points and 'Outstanding/Top value,' Allen Meadows (Burghound): (from vines planted in 1953). Hints of matchstick and citrus introduce bigger, richer and slightly more vibrant flavors that are at once dense and serious yet the citrusy finish is not without a certain attractive refinement. This… ...

AM 86-89
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Ente/Benoit Bourgogne Chardonnay Golden Jubilee 2016  (#332887)

Chardonnay from Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
$39.95
$45.00
Save $5.05 (11%)45.00
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Sourced from cool Central Coast sites, this refreshing Chardonnay exhibits ripe pear, apple, and tropical citrus aromas and flavors, with delicate floral highlights and mineral undertones. It is full and round, with a juicy core of fruit and mouthwatering finish. It makes a thirst-quenching aperitif… ...

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Jackhammer Chardonnay Monterey County 2015  (#331211)

Chardonnay from Monterey, Central Coast, California

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available

90 points Tim Atkin, MW (Jan 2017). ...

TA 90
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Lamy/Hubert Bourgogne Blanc Les Chataigners 2015  (#332567)

Chardonnay from Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
PRE-ARRIVAL

94 points Tim Atkin, MW: From a low-yielding, old vine parcel of 0.5 hectares acquired by William Fèvre in 2010, this shows the comparative heat of its terroir, with 50% oak adding some vanilla spice. Green apple, pear and minerality with impressive mid-palate weight and an exotic flourish. 2016-24. ...

TA 94
ST 90-93
JG 92
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Fevre Chablis 1er cru Mont de Milieu 2014  (#332244)

Chardonnay from Chablis, Burgundy, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 9 available
TA 94
ST 90-93
JG 92
NEW ITEM

95 points and 'Don't miss!' Allen Meadows (Burghound): A ripe but cool nose is comprised by notes of honeysuckle, white peach, pear and acacia blossom. There is an ultra-refined mouth feel and excellent volume to the saliva-inducing and intense medium weight plus flavors that possess stunningly good… ...

AM 95
ST 92-94
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Boillot/Henri Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet 2014  (#329023)

Chardonnay from Puligny-Montrachet, Côtes de Beaune, Burgundy, France

1.5L Magnum | In stock, 1 available
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