Chardonnay lovers are in for a treat and a chance to pick up a variety of highly rated Cool Climate Chardonnays in the LCBO Vintages Release July 10, 2021.
Chardonnay in a nutshell- There are basically 2 ends of the spectrum when it comes to Chardonnay. Light and crisp will have a green apple, high acid, refreshing profile. Chablis is the archetypical example of this style but are many other regions, especially cool regions, that produce a similar style.
The other end of the spectrum is Rich, full-bodied, creamy with oak, vanilla, bready notes and often ripe orchard apples. You can probably picture a California Chardonnay with lots of buttery oak notes. The elegant examples of this style would be high end French Chardonnays such as a Meursault or Pouilly-Fuissé. Australia typically falls somewhere in between.
Canada does a good job with Chardonnay- clean but rich with good acidity and some minerality.
There are quite a few to choose from in the LCBO Vintages Release July 10, 2021. Here are my picks for the best value selections and an array that offers a variety of styles. So – grab 5 friends or 10 friends (however many you are allowed in these days of COVID restrictions. Have everyone bring a different bottle. (Or buy a bunch and split the costs.) Choose a pleasant, summer day under some shady trees or under the stars and systematically sample each wine. Compare impressions and preferences among the group. You might be surprised what the results will tell you about your own taste preferences.
Start sampling with the lightest and work your way to the richest. Here are my suggestions for good value in order or light to rich with increasing complexity.
Malivoire Estate Grown Chardonnay VINTAGES#: 573147 $19.95 Ontario, Canada has some of the green apple spectrum going on according to Vic Harradine ofwinecurrent.com. He gives it a 90 and describes ‘balanced palate flavours with honey-drizzled apple interwoven with lemon curd and sweet Bosc pear that persists throughout’.
Flat Rock Chardonnay VINTAGES#: 286278 $19.95 Ontario, Canada Vic Harradine of winecurrent.com gives this a 90 score and describes ‘baking spice, toasty notes , pineapple and caramel’ on the nose The palate is medium+ bodied with tingling acidity, ripe apple, citrus and white grapefruit.
2027 Cellars Wismer Vineyard Foxcroft Block Chardonnay 2019 VINTAGES#: 421362 $24.95 Ontario, Canada is an example of one of Ontario’s best Chardonnays from an outstanding producer. Score 93 from Rick VanSickle of winesinniagara.com. Expect ripe pear and lemon on the nose, some crushed stoned, toasted almonds and subtle oak. These qualities carry over to the palate where they are supported by elegant spice and nuttiness and ‘electric acidity’. You could cellar this easily for a 3 or 4 years.
Oh… the California conundrum! You may be familiar with my position that California wines in general are over-priced in Canada due to the exchange rate before you even get to the ‘caché’ – what -the-market-will-bear factor. None of the wines on offer this release have scored consistently in the 90s despite the hefty price tags on the upper end. (Scores were commensurate with the prices but I can’t see that $47 is justified here.)
I would suggest trying something like District 7 Chardonnay 201 VINTAGES#: 458844 $18.95 California, USA from the June 26 release. Decanter.com gave this a 93 citing slight butteriness and ‘cooked orange’ with delicate stone fruit flavour, mango, guava with some saline texture and a ‘long succulent quite pithy finish’. Full bodied and rich, enjoy with pastry appetizers, rich cheeses, creamy pasta, chicken or pork.
If you are tasting the spectrum then you need to include a Burgundian Chardonnay. The French offerings scores are commensurate with the price in this instance. Both are considered full-bodied and rich and will be elegant, refined and well-balanced. Pick the one that suits your budget.
Domaine du Chalet Pouilly Pouilly-Fuissé 2018 VINTAGES#: 295717 $37.95 Burgundy, France Score 90-92 – ripe peaches, hazelnuts, honey, with underlying tony minerality. Some lees (toasty, yeasty notes).
(Chile is also producing some good Chardonnays but none were featured in this release.)
You can check out my other Wine Picks <$35 from LCBO Vintages Release July 10 2021.