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.
Maybe it’s age or maybe its experience, but I find myself leaning more and more toward lesser or non-oaked Chardonnay. My most recent top pics who win top marks for subtle winemaking methods that produce flavor-packed wines has to go to Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay and Panther Creek 2016 (oaked) Chardonnay. Let’s see how Wrath’s Ex stacks up…
I think I mentioned before I’m becoming super picky with my Chardonnays. I can’t take them over-worked (over-oaked, too much ML, etc.) — let’s taste the fruit! One way to do that is to ferment and age the wine in stainless steel. Fresh, crisp, yet still a good balance of body…Cindy, girl, you did it again…
About the Wine: The Passaggio Wines 2018 Unoaked Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from the Namesake Vineyards located in Sonoma County’s Los Carneros AVA. The wine was, as mentioned, aged in 100% stainless steel tanks.
Flavor Profile: Warm, round comforting scents immediately as the wine is poured from bottle to glass. The Chardonnay emits a solid golden yellow in the glass, reminiscent of a classic Chardonnay — which this absolutely is not. Initial aromas are of yellow apples, apple blossoms, a hint of pollen and an almost pastry like decadence. But the palate could not be more different. Zing! with lemon-lime zest hit the tongue straight-away; a confident acidity rides evenly from start to finish; that “pastry” sensed on the nose becomes a mere background element, revealing itself in a more toasty than buttery flavor. Dominant flavors are of green apple and pear, white peach, perhaps a hint of apricot, and an over-riding floral perfume that both complements the fruit and elevates the delicacy of this uniquely refreshing Chardonnay.
Food Pairing: I loved that I was able to enjoy this Chardonnay over the course of a few days, pairing it with a ricotta cheese ravioli tossed with veggies and cream sauce as well as an Indian-style wrap and salad. Better yet, I enjoyed this wine during the work week. Unpretentious, unassuming, it’s peppy with flavors that act like the light at the end of a work-day tunnel, but light enough that you don’t feel weighed down or guilty for sipping it knowing you have to get up the next morning.
I also have to point out here that I love that Cindy’s white wines all come with screwcaps. It makes them a) much more inviting to open on a “I just feel like it” kind of basis and 2) [I think] makes the wine easier to preserve and thus enjoy over the course of a few days, as I’ve done with all of her recent white (and rosé) releases.
More Info: I received this bottle as a gift. (Cheers, Cindy!) Price: $36. For more information about Cindy, her wines, and to purchase wine directly (and stalk for the latest releases) please visit the Passaggio Wines website.
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**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**
I am on a Chardonnay kick. Wait. Let me edit that. I am on a QUALITY Chardonnay kick. As in, recently, I threw out 3 bottles of Chardonnay after the first sip because they are still adhering to the old-new world expression: over-oaked, buttery spread. But trends are changing: everything that’s old is new again and that goes for the “Chablis-style” Chardonnay. I recently attended a panel discussion of winemakers making wine in this style (please read The Chardonnay Style Spectrum) and I am so pleased that the industry is headed this direction. And much of this is headed by the Oregon wine industry. Chardonnay may be the most widely planted white wine grape in California, but it is creeping up the Oregon ladder (currently still behind Pinot Gris) — and these guys are doing it right. Case and point: Panther Creek Cellars.