May Lehigh Valley Chapter Tasting
Saturday, May 15 2021 5:00 PM
Host: Geoff Harrington
Virtual Event on Zoom
On Saturday, May 15, at 5:00 pm, AWS member, winemaker, and former chardonnay grower Geoff Harrington, will lead us through a tasting of Chardonnays that will be on the shopping lists of our members this summer – all of the available at Fine Wine and Good Spirit Shoppes in our area!
Harrington had his first glass of premium world-class chardonnay during the summer of 1976, a Heitz Cellar Lot Z-32 Napa Valley “Pinot” Chardonnay.” He’s been a devotee of chardonnay ever since, planting two backyard chardonnay vineyards and making barrel-fermented chardonnays at his own Smithbridge Cellars and at Stone and Key Cellars.
Good chardonnay can be found up and down the price spectrum and in a greater range of wine styles. For our May 15 tasting, several of our members nominated their favorite Chardonnays for summer drinking, and the tasting will feature 2 French wines and 5 California bottles, priced at $15.99 to $29.99. Some higher priced bottles were suggested but were not available locally.
The Mer Soleil, Latour, and Jadot are “no oak” wines, while the others offer varying levels of barrel-fermented oak character.
For a three bottle sample, consider #3 Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse, #4 J. Lohr Riverstone, and #7 Newton Unfiltered. (About $76 for 3 wines)
To taste 5 bottles, you might add either #1 Mer Soleil Silver or #2 Louis Jadot Chablis; AND either #5 Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast or #6 Cuvaison Carneros. (About $125 for 5 wines).
Or mix and match your own selections, based on the descriptions below.
Five of the wines are available across the Lehigh Valley with most stores listed offering 10 or more bottles. The Jadot and Newton are limited to a few stores, but in good supply, with quantities of bottles listed.
1. Mer Soleil Chardonnay Monterey County Silver Unoaked 2017 $23.99 #05089
First produced in 2005 by Charlie Wagner of Caymus, it is rich, full-bodied, and unoaked. Made in neutral stainless-steel and cement tanks, it offers fresh flavors of blanched almond, bright apple, soft tropical fruit and citrus, finishing crisp with clean mineral flavors.
Alcohol 14.8%. Drink: 2020-2023. Rated 88 by Natalie MacClean (UK), 89 by Wine.Com.
Food pairings: smoked oysters, grilled chicken or fish, lobster with melted butter.
Available at Lehigh Street, Cedar Crest, Krock’s Road, Fogelsville, Macungie, Emmaus, White Hall, Bethlehem Stefco, Northampton Crossings, and Freemansburg Avenue.
2. Louis Jadot Chablis 2019 $24.99 #83372
Aged in stainless steel to preserve the fresh fruit, this wine has a light, poised touch. Crisp sliced apples and lime acidity are given a textured touch that adds to the refreshing character of the wine.
Alcohol 12.5%. Drink from 2020. Rated 88 by Wine Enthusiast.
Food pairings: oysters, shellfish, sushi, charcuterie, salads, and goat cheese.
Available at Cedar Crest (22), Krock’s Road (28), and Northampton Crossings (22)
3. Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse 2018 $29.99 #04709
Fermentation and aging in stainless steel vats with 100% malolactic fermentation. Melon, pear, apricot, and almond make subtle appearances on the nose of this wine. The palate is textured, mellow with ripeness, and smooth with rounded juiciness.
Alcohol 13%. Rated 89 by Wine Enthusiast.
Food pairings: Shellfish, charcuterie, creamy cheese, pasta, and veggie dishes.
Available at White Hall, Cedar Crest, Schnecksville, Lehigh Street, Macungie, Promenade, Fogelsville, Krock’s Road, Airport Point, Bethlehem Stefko, Hellertown, Freemansburg Avenue, and Northampton Crossings.
4. J Lohr Chardonnay Riverstone Arroyo Seco 2018 $15.99 #05539
Always one of the better priced Chardonnays on the market, this bottling offers aromas of lemon juice, toast, apple, and a tight white-rock minerality on the nose. Seared lemon and roasted apple flavors are enhanced by lime-skin and struck stone flavors.
Alcohol 14%. Drink through 2023. Rated 88 by Wine Enthusiast.
Food pairings: Dijon tarragon chicken, roasted halibut, and moules marinière.
Available at Cedar Crest, Schnecksville, Macungie, Lehigh Street, Cedar Point, Trexlertown, Schoenersville Road, Walnutpoint, Hellertown, Bethlehem Stefko, and Nazareth Pike.
5. Chalk Hill Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2018 $21.99 #98350
Barrel fermented and aged 10 months sur lie and with 100% malolactic fermentation and bi-weekly batonnage for 5 months. Creamy with lemon curd, mandarin, and toasty char notes. Unctuous, buttered hazelnut character with a fine acidity and underlying minerality with aromas of crème brulée and banana.
Alcohol 14.9%. Rated 92 by Wine.com Tasting Panel; 92 Wine Advocate.
Food pairings: pulled pork, grilled lobster tail, salmon, or swordfish, four-cheese pizza.
Available at Cedar Crest, Lehigh, Macungie, Trexlertown, Schoenersville Road, Emmaus, Promenade, Union Blvd., White Hall, Fogelsville, Stefko Blvd., Hellertown, Freemansburg Avenue, and Northampton Crossings.
6. Cuvaison Chardonnay Estate Grown Carneros 2018 $24.99 #08150
A long cool growing season, followed by slow fermentation and aging for 11 months in (25% new) French oak barrels, delivered structured wines with attractive, orchard-fruit aromas with fresh and easygoing pear flavors, hints of brioche, and a creamy finish.
Alcohol 14%. Rated 90 by James Suckling, 90 by Wine Spectator.
Food pairings: Fresh Crab, crab cakes, grilled pork or chicken, swordfish, and salmon.
Available at Emmaus, Cedar Crest, Schnecksville, Lehigh Street, Cedar Point, Fogelsville, Towne Center, Promenade, Whitehall, Hellertown, and Northampton Crossings.
7. Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay Napa Valley 2016 #79280
100% barrel fermented, using indigenous yeasts. The wine was aged for a total of 12 months in French oak barrels, 24% of which were new. Barrels were hand-stirred to resuspend sediment during maturation. Beautifully aromatic in pear, toasted oak, and hazelnut, it is floral, earthy, balanced, and complex.
Alcohol 14%. Rated 93 by Wine Enthusiast, 94 by James Suckling, 96 by Decanter.
Food Pairings: Grilled pork or chicken, salmon, swordfish, or charcuterie.
Available at Cedar Crest (59), Krock’s Road (53), White Hall (16), Northampton Crossings (42), and Freemansburg Avenue (15).
To prepare for the tasting, gather your any special memories when a chardonnay made your fav wine made the occasion right! If your wine is selected, you will have the option to introduce it or to remain anonymous at the tasting.