Posts Tagged ‘Chardonnay’

Its Spring Break! Yay!!  So far, this term’s course load has been significantly more intense over last term.  Projects have been large and involved and each one included a verbal presentation in from of the class and in one case, before an actual client. Mid-term exams have been completed and a couple have been exceptionally challenging.  Hopefully the poor performance on one exam is balanced with the rest of the work so i can maintain my 4.0 GPA.

Along side this challenging schoolwork comes the unfortunate crashing of my computer.  Although i DO have backups of all my significant files, some of the instances are a little out of date with the ones that were lost. Sadly, this includes my wine diary.  The last entry that made it to this blog’s backup was the previous one I posted.  Everything since then – some 17 exceptional bottles of vinos’ notes lost. =[  What I did salvage from hand-written notes a scrap of napkin in my desk drawer was this note on:

Konzelmann Unoaked Chardonnay 2008:  Pineapple, tropical fruit and apple feel decently crisp. The mouth-feel is well-textured and smooth. The finish is light with white peach flavours and a solid citrus acidity. I didn’t make note of what we paired with it, but i can certainly see this beside a cajun-style blackened fish.

So this finishes my current collection of tasting notes.  No more Ontario vino for a while, sadly.  I’m not sure when i’ll have a chance to compose another entry, so do follow me on Twitter @thevinoboy.  I hope to get some ‘on-the-road’ tasting notes posted there as i’m sipping.  Should a bottle of note happen my way and i have a moment to write something more official up here, do come back and have a read.

Now, its a week off and a trip to Hawaii for nothing but R&R.



This is my very first vino from a vintner whose vines, but for a small body of water; practically straddle appellations.  Examining the viticulture map of California, I can see Sonoma Valley begins just across San Pablo Bay from San Francisco.

Sterling has labeled this vino as Central Coast so the grapes used to produce this Chardonnay are from the vineyards south of San Fran.  So there we have it – chilling in the fridge to ~14°C, grilled chicken seasoned with fresh sage & oregano, roasted smashed potatoes with Mediterranean sea salt, and sauteed haricots vert.

The deep golden color in the glass is a prelude to light scents of butter-cream, pineapple and orange.  The palate is full and mouth-filling, the tropical flavors carrying through to a decent finish, though the pale haze of muddled oak creates a complexity better suited to a mid-palate rather than an aftertaste.    LCBO ~$15/blt.

Humbly, your vinoboy places a “Recommended” check mark on it.  I am not exactly a lover of Chardonnay in-and-of-itself and tend to be extraordinarily picky. The benchmark set by V Sattui’s Caneros Chardonnay makes for quite a challenge for most other Chard’s.




**image credit: Google Image search results. makes no claims to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Chablis.  Sometimes referred to as the “outcast of Burgundy”, Chablis is a small region in north-central France most well-known for its mineral-rich terroir; the soil full of limestone and calcium.  The area was once covered by a vast sea, so the fossils and shells add to the calcium content in the soil. I could go on and on about just the soil in various parts of France but will leave that to one of my on-line mentors: The Wine Doctor.  Visit and explore his extensive writings on the subject and check out his sponsors.

Chablis, therefore, isn’t so much about the Chardonnay grape from which it is made, but about the earth that nurtures the vines.

Carefully chilled to 14°C whilst dinner was prepared to hit the grill.

I’ve recently acquired a taste for whole shrimp; the jus in the carapace is succulent and tastes of the sea – reminding me of growing up in the rural Maritimes. Got some live 8-10 tiger prawns from a local Asian market, dunked them in ice-cold brine to slow them down and make them clear their guts. Drained them, sprinkled with S&P and put in the fridge. (yes, they’re still alive, but very sluggish.  Got the grill really hot and laid shrimp carefully on holding them there in case any complained about their imminent consumption.

Took only three minutes each side to perfectly cook. Split off the head and suck out the jus!  Mmmm!  Creamy soft, slight tinny taste, and lightly salty.  A sip of Chablis to compliment the custardy shrimp jus.  Nice. Peeled away the shell on the tail and savored the delicate flesh clean and simple.

The crisp and light acidity of the Chablis is a great balance to the mid-weight silky mouth-feel.  Flavors of citrus, coriander and slate carry through to a dry lingering finish.  I think I’ll be adding more Chablis to my cellar for a couple year’s rest – the time will mellow the tang of the minerals and increase the undertone of spice.

LCBO/Vintages ~$22/btl  A bit pricey for every-day consumption, but with the expensive shrimp, it was worth it.  Magnifique!



**image credit – Google Image Search. clams no ownership from any source and republishes image under Fair Use Provisions for review and critique.

What I have here is another example of why Chile should not make wine.  The Errazuriz Estate is located in the town of Casablanca roughly 100km due west from the capitol of Santiago. The moderating influence of the southern Pacific Ocean provides a cool macro-climate while the Andes Mountains to the east ensure good rainfall.

The color is a strange green-tinged yellow with a serious scent of pineapple and durian.  On the palate of a Chardonnay, one would expect a very still, decent mouth-feel, often tropical flavors of papaya and passion fruit.  This vino has an obvious and pronounced crackling  sensation on the tongue that is decidedly harsh. Past that, a hint of banana flavor is followed by a sustained herbal finish reminiscent of tomato leaves.

A new release at LCBO/Vintages for ~$11/btl, there are many other tastier more varietally pleasing chardonnays out there in this price range.  A definite shock to the palate away from what a normal unoaked chardonnay is supposed to taste like.



**image credit – the winery.  Republished under Fair Use Provisions for Review and Critique.

Wow!  Long name, amazing vino: “Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir South Eastern Australia Brut Cuvée”. This third offering in my four-part holiday series is another non-vintage sparkler in the moderately priced range of ~$14/btl.

This lonely bottle was hiding behind other unrelated bottles of Brut far away from the main display of Champagnes and sparkling vinos.  I adopted it immediately and checked the proper section for pricing and found none.  Whatever!  I took it to the till expecting over $25, and was pleasantly surprised at its ~$14 tag. Cha-ching!

Such a heavy bottle with a very deep punt, I made sure to be in complete control when this baby was uncorked. De-foiling, and releasing the cage was done with extra care so not to jarre the bottle to spontaneously popping; the pressure inside the bottle was palpable as I CAREFULLY coaxed the cork into motion.  POW!  This is the first bottle that frothed over upon opening…

Into a chilled glass, the mousse was more reserved than others and subsided just as carefully to present a deeply golden wine crackling with life. The bubbles were modestly-sized and pulsed from many points around the glass. Baked apple flavors dominate the entire experience from start to finish with an attractive complexity that hits mid-palate. Finish flattens out a little but still urges the next sip.

Mature, creamy and fresh, this is definitely a pleasing sipper with food or toasting solo.




**image credit – The winery, festively adorned with holly. Used under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

This is a wine I have liked a lot for a long time though very seldom buy due to the huge difference in pricing between Canada (~$11/btl) and the US (~$6/btl)… It typically doesn’t go on sale very often at the LCBO so I have to be in the paying-for-it mood.

“Do you ALWAYS plan meals with wines?” I’m often asked. “Seems like an awful lot of wine to go through!” Why, yes! Yes, I do.  I typically keep four distinctly different bottles: 2 red/2 white, in my storage crate over any 2-week period.

To me, wine is both extremely special and extremely every day. I budget my wine purchasing very carefully and allow for one bottle every three or four days; once opened, a bottle typically only lasts that long anyway… I’ll have a bottle opened on Friday after work to evaluate and blog and sip at it all evening.  Having guests over or going to a friend’s place for social and meals is another opportunity to examine and take notes on wines – sometimes two to three depending on the crowd.

This wine was taken to brunch for a simple meal at a neighbor’s as we celebrated the passing-by of an out-of-town friend.  Homey and basic fare consisting of chicken-salad on Flax-seed tortilla wraps; pasta salad with veggies and a creamy dressing; my favorite butternut squash & apple soup; and slices of honeydew melon, pineapple and cantaloupe.  Everyday stuff with a commensurate vino.

A deep lustrous yellow, this slightly off-dry Chard carries typical whiffs of  pineapple and mango to the nose; the 13.5% alcohol is marginally noticeable.  The body is just medium and the tropical flavors carry through to a finish that is complimented by a hint of butterscotch smoothness.

Strooth! A rippah standby.




**image credit – The Winery Used under Fair Use Provisions for review and critique.

The day started with a passable breakfast at the new restaurant adjacent to the hotel and we were soon on the road this bright and sunny and WINDY day. Once on the picturesque Niagara Parkway, we ambled along the edge of the gorge stopping at a few outlooks for pictures.  The drive was splendid and relaxing and though our tour reservations were for 1pm, we left with plenty of time for sight-seeing. One particular stop was at the Whirlpool and its one-of-a-kind-on-the-planet Spanish AeroCar!  A marvel of modern early 20th century engineering!  You won’t catch me on it!

We arrived at the winery at lunch time and relaxed in the Welcome Center with a Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese board, dry Riesling and Chardonnay as our wines.  Watching as people explored the courtyard or enjoyed their own snacks was interesting. The couple that shared our little snack space and also in our tour group were visiting from Milwaukee on their honeymoon. We proudly announced this as our 7th anniversary.  A nice couple.

The tour started with a basic introduction to the founders and theirhistory leading up to today.  Rather than rewrite all that, please visit the Inniskillin website and explore.  As our guide was yammering on about this and that, a truck rumbled into the lot, and the workers proceeded to start emptying into the crusher/de-stemmer. Aha! These Chardonnay grapes were plump and firm and felt ready to burst!

The tour meandered through quite a bit of the place, stopping here and there at various points along the production line. The main fermentation tanks are massive vats two stories tall and gleaming stainless steel! Below ground in their conference room and ageing cellars, various barrels and rooms held some of their test-batches and premier reserves.  I think the guide mentioned that with the barrels lining the pictured chamber, the Cabernet Sauvignon they held would be for private stock or special presentation wine. Not sure that that means, but I’ll bet the bottles would be expensive!!

At the end of the tour, was the much anticipated tasting! A Chardonnay Reserve, a Meritage and a Vidal Icewine…

Chardonnay VQA Reserve 2009: Pineapple and mango, hints of spice and vanilla fill the nose of this fully-oaked Chard. Tropical and creamy on the palate with a mineral finish. (LCBO ~$15/btl)

Meritage 2009: Cranberry and spice dominate thru an alcohol-evident aroma. The texture is smooth with a juicy tannin that leads to a lingering spicy finish. Not the most sophisticated Meritage I’ve tried but fun in this setting. I’m unsure of its availability or pricing.

Icewine Vidal VQA 2007: Oh my! At first sip, I thought it was pure honey. The second sip was a fascinating experience filled with lychee, dried apricot and fig. A balanced sweetness, though with the alcohol caressing the back of the throat. Not entirely sure of this style of wine as this is only the second time I’ve chanced to taste an icewine. (LCBO ~$50/btl @372ml.)

In the boutique, I found a Montague Estate Pinot Noir VQA 2004! Made with select grapes from their Montague Estate (sub-appellation: Four Mile Creek) this already 7yo Pinot is said to be a passable vintage carrying ripe red fruit and spice… I’ve now stored the bottle safely away with the plan of uncorking it on our 14th anniversary on 10-Oct-2018. I hope the fellow at the counter was correct in his assertion that this Pinot can be safely aged for up to 20 years… (winery only ~$25/btl)

A wonderful outing! Now we’re heading back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner and a trip to Fallsview Casino Resort!




**image credit: ME!!  I took all these picture myself. Logos and facilities are obviously copyrighted to the winery and shared under personal use. Want to see more of the images from Inniskillin, drop me a note and i’ll see what i can dig up for you.

This is our 7th anniversary!!  My partner and I have traveled to all corners of North America, escaped to Hawaii and even wandered around Paris, France – but we’ve never really explored what lies close to my front door.  I wanted to do something we’ve never done before here in Ontario, so I planned a long long weekend together enjoying the scenery and wineries of the Niagara Region.  The weather was perfect, the fall colors drenched the escarpment in gorgeous reds and yellows, Lake Ontario sparkled to the north as we meandered our way along Hwy 8…  Couldn’t ask for anything more perfect.

The first winery we chanced upon would be Peninsula Ridge, situated on the the bench-lands in Beamsville. The mineral-rich terroir fills the grapes with a lively acidity and sparking sweetness that is totally unique to this appellation.

Established in 2000, this winery boasts a complex yet simple marriage of new-world harvesting and fermentation technology to old-world barrel-aging to give their wines class and quality.  The Kitchen House, a restored Queen Anne-styled manor built in the late 1800’s is their on-site restaurant – though we were there a little early to try it.

Their boutique was dressed in varnished wood and limestone accents; tasting bar was welcoming with black granite counter-tops. We were greeted with a smile and excitedly presented the tasting menu. Though most of this winery’s vinos are only sold AT the boutique, I made sure to try wines available at our LCBO stores so you can find them and try for yourself:

INOX Chardonnay 2008: The twangy notes of flint, limestone and oranges are immediately evident in the nose of this unoaked Chardonnay.  Flavors of oranges and ripe peaches open up on the palate and balance decently with a long finish.  This vino would be great with a breaded white-fleshed fish. (LCBO price is ~$13/btl)

Merlot 2008: Like most of this winery’s Merlots, this is an unfiltered* wine. My nose was greeted with ripe black cherries, plums and a hint of smoke.  A round palate of succulent hints of chocolate, cherry and firm tannins lingered loooooooooooooooong with lip-smacking notes of oak and cedar.  (LCBO price ~$13/btl)

Reserve Riesling 2008:  This turned out to be a semi-sweet Riesling (2) with a remarkable aroma of fresh pineapple!  The palate was brightly acidic with the pineapple flavor carrying straight through to the finish.   (winery only at ~$20/bottle)

This first stop on my three winery tour was most enlightening.  I can’t wait to see what more this area is hiding!! =D




*please refer to the Clarification paragraph in “Grape to Glass“. “Unfiltered” simply means that during ‘racking’, no devices were used to trap any free-flowing sediment. Decant this wine and pour slowly to mitigate any bits going into your glass. This is the most traditional Merlot vinting and produces a nicer more authentic essence to a Merlot so sip slower and savour the vino. Bits-and-pieces in the bottom of the glass are just fine!!!

** images credits: ME!!! I took these pictures MYSELF! The names and labels are owned by the winery. Thank you Peninsula Ridge for an awesome visit!

The Bergkelder Winery outside of Stellenbosch has recently been a star up-and-comer in the budget-priced range of expressive wines from South Africa.  Their Two Oceans Chardonnay 2009 is probably one of the better ones I’ve tried.

Chilled in the fridge for about 4 hours, I unscrewed the cap and poured some of this pale gold Chard into a large chilled glass and gave it a swirl.  Its 14% alcohol didn’t produce much legging, so I was interested. A slow and careful inhale brought scents of honey and citrus to the nose. For it being so lightly-colored, I was expecting a wishy-washy spritzich mouth-feel.  Instead, I am treated to a medium-full bodied tartness filled with oranges, lemons and grapefruits and a smooth vanilla finish.  The pleasantly light oakiness is rewarding for a wine so light in appearance.

I really enjoyed this with my dinner tonight of grilled chicken breast marinated in garlic chipotle. Ooo!  A whole trout stuffed with lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary wrapped in foil and roasted on the barbecue would be awesome too!  *drool

Two Oceans Chardonnay 2009.  Jou goeie gesondheid!