I recently received three new releases from a winery I’d not heard of. Interesting factoid: Ron Rubin Brands includes The Republic of Tea. According to the company website, Rubin—who was already a veteran in the beverage industry—”The Republic of Tea, a book about the story and philosophy behind the groundbreaking tea company. Rubin was so inspired, and made an offer to the Ziegler’s and Bill Rosenzweig to purchase The Republic of Tea. Since then, Rubin has been on a mission to seek and procure the most exquisite teas from world premier tea gardens, making them accessible to everyone.” You can read more of Rubin’s story here.
When it comes to winegrowing and winemaking, the estate vineyards are located in Green Valley—a sub-AVA of California’s Russian River Valley. So, no surprise, then, that the wines I received were two styles of Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.
I decided to play a fun game with myself. Having received the newest Chardonnay releases from Talley Vineyards, each of which highlights a separate vineyard in California’s Central Coast, I wanted to see if I could taste the difference between each. The short answer to that question: yes, yes I can.
This post is entitled ChardonNay or ChardonYay because, in case you haven’t picked up from previous posts, I personally have a hard time with the variety. Chardonnay is like putty in a winemaker’s hands—it will mold or melt, form or fragment depending on how much he or she wants to “do” with it. It easily picks up on oak barrel spices; delivers the toast and bread-y notes from lees aging; and if ever there was a variety that can speak to the aromas and flavors from malolactic conversion, it is Chardonnay. Indeed, the grape can be easily manipulated and, oft times (especially in the new world), over-worked.
So, I was not only curious if I could taste the difference between the various vineyards, I was curious if I’d have a preference between them. The short answer to that question: yes, yes I did.
I’m taking a brief detour from my tour of Panther Creek’s estate Pinot Noir vineyards. (If you haven’t followed along thus far, do take a look at these: Maverick, Kalita, and Lazy River. And don’t forget the oh-so-fun Pinot Noir-Chardonnay white wine blend. [know, right?]) No, today I’m featuring their estate Chardonnay—a Chardonnay actually worth drinking. I have a hard time with Chardonnay: it can be bland and boring, or completely unbalanced with all the winemaking things you can do to it. Ah, but here we have subtle simplicity holding hands with a solid structure. Drink it on its own, drink it with food, but either way drink and enjoy.
This was literally a case of, “Do you want a red or white wine with dinner tonight?” The fact of the matter was the meal could have easily paired with either. So, I thought, heck, why not try this (for me) experimental blend I just received in my latest allocation of Panther Creek new releases. It’s a cool concept: Take off the skins of the red wine grape and ferment it like a white and then, blend it with another white. No reason it shouldn’t work…
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have an excessive access to California North Coast wine. And, while I’m not exactly complaining, I am admitting that this has, in some ways, stunted my international wine perspective. So studying for the WSET, in which you’re expected to know a lot of detail about different winemaking regions throughout the world can be a bit daunting. And there are two country’s that intimidate me the most. France: its history, its reputation, it’s frickin’ variety of different wine laws. Australia: It’s huge. So when I received the following practice question I had a bit of a heart attack. But then I realized that there’s an opportunity here, an opportunity to tackle two fears at once.
During service a customer asks you to recommend an Australian alternative for his two favorite French wines. Recommend alternative wines that have a similar style, quality, and price. You must account for the factors in the vineyard and winery which make your choices appropriate. Also explain any important differences in the wine.