Hello Prince Albert! I’ve talked about Chardonnay a few times in this column and I keep coming back to the style. The truth is that every chardonnay is slightly different from each other and you’re doing yourself a disfavor by writing off the varietal completely.
Chardonnay styles come in all types and the growing conditions, terroir, vintage, winery production methods, fermentation vessels and aging style all make a huge impact on the final product. The styles of chardonnay range from crisp/sharp and light to full-bodied and buttery with a luxurious texture.
This week I put two chards head to head to see which I prefer and while both wines had a similar profile, one chard came out ahead due to its higher intensity and smoothness on the finish.
The Oxford Landing chard had some typical varietal highlights of apple, pear and apricots with a mineral twang providing crispness; however, the mineral aspect of this wine leans into bitter flavors and the finish is quick and simple, which knocks the score down slightly. A soft cheese paired with this white will soften the bitterness and allow the fruity flavors to shine.
In comparison to the Oxford Landing chard, the Bella Terra from Canada is produced by aging the wine “sur lie” aka “on the yeast”. While this method usually produces chardonnays with a buttery tone and hints of baked bread, these flavors were hardly present at all. This wine is actually quite similar to the Oxford Landing but the finish is longer and smoother with the mineral aspect integrated more successfully.
What really stands out between the two chardonnays is the intense citrus flavors and smoothness of the mineral zip in the Bella Terra versus the Oxford Landing. The Bella Terra wins this showdown but the intense citrus tones are still a surprise, especially the delicious pomelo/grapefruit tones.
Before I go this week, I want to mention some big news in the Canadian Brewers Awards for 2021. Rebellion Brewing out of Regina, Saskatchewan won first place for their beer, the Rebellion Cherry Lambic. That’s right, not only does Rebellion brew awesome beer but they’ve managed to brew a complex, amazing beer that won the award for best beer in Canada! Treat yourself and try a bottle of the Cherry Lambic. It brought back memories of my first Kriek (Cherry lambic beer) in Belgium and that’s a wonderful feeling. Here are my wine and beer picks of the week!
Oxford Landing Estates Chardonnay 2019: (South Australia). Off-dry white, medium lemon color. The wine opens with a fruity and floral nose featuring bruised apples, pears, papaya, pineapple, wet rocks, chamomile and lilies. On the palate, a crushed mineral flavor is present and is quickly followed by medium-plus acidity. Citrus, apples, apricots and stone fruit linger along with a chalky rock flavor leaving traces of bitterness on the medium finish. Medium body, medium intensity. Pair with soft cheeses, sea food or fresh veggies. Good! $20, 12.5% ABV
Bella Terra Chardonnay Sur Lie 2019: (VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada). Dry white, medium lemon color. The medium intense nose presents lemon/lime citrus, pears, apples, peaches, lemon custard, beeswax and chalky mineral. On the palate, this chard is quite intense (high intensity) with immediate flavors of lemon juice, grapefruit flesh and pomelo rind. Medium body with medium-plus acidity. Citrus peels and pith are most apparent but once the wine warms, flavors of peach and pear also appear. The finish is long with zingy lemon peel and hints of saline chalky mineral. The mineral is nicely balanced creating a satisfying counterpoint to the fruity citrus. Very good! $25, 12.5% ABV
Rebellion Cherry Lambic: (Regina, Saskatchewan). Dry sour beer, bright raspberry red color with light, slightly pink foam lacing. The nose of this lambic beer is bright and fruity with sour cherry candies, cherry life saver and hints of cellar-like sour funk. To the taste, this red beer is tart and tangy with lively cherry fruit and cinnamon on the mid palate quickly transitioning into malty biscuit with hints of horse blanket. The balance of tart, sour cherries and sweet spice followed by clean acidity keep this medium-bodied beer refreshing and light. Expensive but worthwhile! Very good! $16, 6.5% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!