Hey everyone, guess what? Yesterday the sun shone through the windshield of my parked car sooo much, it was moderately warm inside when I unlocked the door, time for Chardonnay, don’tcha think?! Woot!
Passopisciaro Passobianco 2016, Etna, Sicily. The cure for sadness. I’m serious. This electric, intensely aromatic Chardonnay is so far off the usual descriptor grid that part of the fun is blind pouring it for your friends and watching them not guess Chardonnay (I thought it was Marsanne/Viognier, my colleague guessed Chenin). Grown on the slopes of the volcano in the Guardiola cru (3,600ft elevation) and aged in concrete, Passobianco is driven by minerals, and the minerals make the fruit go bonkers. Expected honey and citrus are tumbled with green pear, acacia flower, jasmine rice and even quinine. Dude. The minerality closes the lid on the crisp finish. This is another win for Tenuta di Trinoro’s Andrea Franchetti (who owns and runs this Sicilian estate), and although no one has reviewed it except for Australia’s fledgling Wine Front (score: 94), don’t miss out by waiting for the reviews – if you love Burgundy this is essential, and finally answers the question: What if Chardonnay collected all the Infinity Stones? 94 points Wine Front, 4 6-packs available, $55.98 +tax
Greywacke 2015, Marlborough, New Zealand. Kevin Judd’s importance to NZ wine can’t be overestimated, his first winery Cloudy Bay pretty much put the cool, sheep-governed region on everyone’s wine radar. After leaving there with nothing but a coffee machine, his friends at Dog Point let him tinker around in their caves until he birthed Greywacke (named for a common bedrock stone in Marlborough), which forsook the clinical precision of Cloudy Bay in favour of wild yeast ferments and old oak – imagine if Don Henley’s post-Eagles output consisted of slam poetry yelled through a wizard’s hat. His Chardonnay, which often gets more attention than his Sauv Blancs, shows nuts and smoke under the reams of stone fruit and honeydew. Full, flinty and rich (but not buttery) with lemon zest and grapefruit around the long finish. Delicious now (we will be pouring it this Saturday March 16th at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’re consumed with doubt), my guess is that it will age like a Beaune. 95 points Bob Campbell MW, 2 cases available, $47.98 +tax
Ponzi Reserve 2014, Willamette Valley, Oregon. In contrast to the statuesque Domaine Serene, the Ponzi sisters (second-generation winemakers after their parents started near Portland 50 years ago) steer their Willamette Chardonnay towards pleasure and hedonism, all whilst keeping the same crisp regional frame – it’s enormous but it’s still Oregon after all. Noses like lemon oil, mandarin orange and the distinct impression that you dropped a slice of green apple in peanut butter, drinks like money. The lush concentration is all on the front, this 2014 finishes clean and mouth-watering. Lovely, graceful delivery from a local legend. 93 points Wine Enthusiast, 2 6-packs available, $79.98 +tax