To Oak or Not To Oak

To Oak or Not To Oak: That is the question.

At least when it comes to a varietal popular around the globe: Chardonnay. This week’s Wine Wednesday concentrates on a pair: an unoaked beauty – Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2011 from France—and a lightly oaked value pick –Wyndham Estate Bin 222 Chardonnay 2011 from Australia—each an unmistakeable chardonnay yet each with a profile that caters well to any occasion that won’t require the wine lover to extend their home equity line of credit.

Domaine Laroche’s approach to cultivating the chardonnay grape can be summed in one word: terroir -- The quality of the soil from the kimmeridgian geological layer contains just the right amount of clay to bring the mineral character, and the substratum clay to preserve enough water and finally, a good orientation towards to the sun in a region that seldom suffers from excess heat. All the right conditions are met for the production of great Chardonnay. (Source: Domaine Laroche)

While for Wyndham Estate the 2011 vintage provided the perfect platform: The 2011 vintage was a remarkable one for many reasons. Following what had been one of the driest spells in Australia’s grape growing history, the 2011 growing season was one of its wettest and coolest. Slow ripening and complexity in the vineyard meant that the growers needed to pay close attention to the fruit and health of the vines. The luxury of sourcing the fruit from several of South Australia’s best grape growing regions meant that only fruit showing ripe, varietal characters were selected for the Bin 222 blend (Source: Wyndham Estate)

Tale of the Tape:

LCBO 289124 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 21.95
Made in: Burgundy, France
By: S & D Adams, Prop.
Wine, White Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Light & Crisp
Varietal: Chardonnay
Sugar Content: 2 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry
LCBO 93401 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
Made in: South Eastern Australia
By: Wyndham Estate Wines Ltd.
Wine, White Wine
13.2% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Rich
Varietal: Chardonnay
Sugar Content: 5 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry
Luminescent golden hue with a fresh nose that reminds one of a fruit orchard.  Classic Chablis on the palette: mineral, touch of creamery butter and nuts ending with a long finish balanced with a subtle feel in the mouth. (We didn’t get the gunpowder that the winery noted but then perhaps the bhel puri that accompanied the wine was an unorthodox food pairing).
Straw colour with more yellow tinge than say a Sauvignon Blanc. For the bouquet, the winery’s description is perfect:  Fresh aromas of stone fruit and melon enhanced with toasty charry oak, melded with a nutty complexity.  Light oak and cream on the palate with nectarine and orange and touch of spice on the finish. Can’t miss pairing this with traditional grilled chicken, pork chops or baked salmon. Wyndham Estate suggest chicken teriyaki or barbeque salmon filet.

Serve at 10°C-11°C/50-52F
Serve at 10°C-12°C/50-54F
4.3 Sukasa Stars
4.2 Sukasa Stars
Quality-Price Ratio: Medium
Quality-Price Ratio: Good

Blog post by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle


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