Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Global Event: Second Annual Chardonnay Day (@Chardonnay) #Chardonnay

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Dennis Cakebread from California

Today is the second annual #Chardonnay day. This is a global event set to run 24 hours in order to give everyone time to have a glass of Chardonnay when it makes sense in their time zone.

All you have to do is share on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare or any other social site using the #Chardonnay hash tag all day May 26th. You'll be able to search what other wine lovers are sharing by searching posts using the #Chardonnay hash tag.

Chardonnays Around the World

Chardonnay is grown wherever wine is made, from England to New Zealand, although the best Chardonnay comes from the Bourgogne. It is one of the most widely-planted grape varieties in the wolrd, with over 175.000 hectares.

Chardonnay first rose to prominence in the Chablis, Bourgogne and Champagne regions. The Bourgogne Chardonnays were long considered the benchmark standard of expressing terroir through Chardonnay. In Chablis, Chardonnay is the only permitted AOC grape variety. The wines rarely go through malolactic fermentation or are exposed to oak. The biting, green apple-like acidity is a trademark of Chablis. In the Champagne, it is most often blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy account for more than 3/5 of all Chardonnay plantings in France.

In the US, Chardonnay found another region where it could thrive in California. The early trend to imitate the Bourgogne wines soon gave way to more buttery and oaky styles. New oak barrels coupled with malolactic fermentation were used to produce wines that were big in body and mouthfeel, and high in alcohol. In recent years, Californian winemakers have been trying to go back to more Old Word Chardonnay, leaner, using less oak and lower alcohol levels.

In Australia, the export driven wine industry was well situated for the Chardonnay boom of the 1980s and 1990s. Now being more famous for its Sauvignon Blanc production, Chardonnay was New Zealand's most widely planted grape variety until only a few years ago.

In conclusion, the area planted with Chardonnay throughout the world is estimates at over 175.000 hectares, with the US and France accounting for about half of it, and Australia, Italy and Modavia for another quarter.

1. U.S.A. : California : 44 509 ha ; Oregon and Washington : 3 203 ha
2. France : 35 252 ha (Bourgogne, Jura, Champagne, Loire Valley, Midi, Charentes).
3. Australia : 22 528 ha
4. Italy : 11 800 ha
5. Moldavia : 8 000 ha
6. South Africa : 7 927 ha
7. Chile : 7 561 ha
8. Slovenia : 3 565 ha
9. Argentina : 5 155 ha
10. New Zealand : 2 449 ha
11. Spain : 2 200 ha
12. Bulgaria : 2 000 ha
13. Romania : 650 ha
14. Israel : 600 ha
15. Portugal : 500 ha
16. Hungary : 500 ha
17. Greece : 500 ha
18. China : 500 ha
19. Other: Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, Austria, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland.

Christian G.E. Schiller’s Chardonnays

My Chardonnay of Today: NV Thibaut-Janisson, Chardonnay, Brut, Monticello, Virginia

This is a French-French joint venture which produces 2500 cases of ulta-premium sparkers in the Monticello area in Virginia in the US. Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson bring to this sparkling wine, which is 100% Chardonnay, generations of tradition from the Champagne region of France and the favors and essence of the Virginia terroir. President Obama had it at his first State Dinner. And it has become the darling of the Washington DC restaurant scene, because it is local and outstanding.

I met Claude Thibaut recently at screwtop winebar in Arlington, where he introduced us to his Virginia sparklers and his partner's Champagnes.


Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Claude Thibaut Producer from Thibaut-Janisson in Virginia and the Thibaut-Janisson Virginia Sparklers

Chardonnays That I Tasted Recently

Over the past 12 months, I had Chardonnays at various occasions. The following were in particular memorable.

First, I tasted a range of Domaine Long-Depaquit Chardonnays from Chablis with Managing Director Matthieu Mangenot at Pearson’s in Washington DC.

Second, Brian Talley from the Central Coast in California came to Cecile’s Wine store in Virginia and presented his wines, including a Chardonnay.

Third, Dennis Cakebread brought a Chardonnay to a winemaker dinner at Evo Bistro in McLean, Virginia.

Fourth, when I traveled in South Africa, I had a memorable afternoon with Antony Hamilton Russel, the producer of outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardoannay wines in the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) valley, just behind the seaside resort of Hermanus in Walker Bay.

Fifth, when I am in Germany, I mainly drink Riesling. But Germany also produces Chardonnay, in particular, in the South, in Baden, towards the Bourgogne in France. I had an excellent Chardonnay Sparkler at Weingut Bernd Hummel.

Chardonnays from Chablis: Domaine Long-Depaquit

Chablis wines are almost all Chardonnay, bone-dry and fresh, with good acidity. Compared with the whites from the rest of Burgundy, Chablis tends to have much less influence of oak. Typically, Chablis is completely unoaked, vinified in stainless steel tanks, although many Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines receive some maturation in oak barrels. But aging time in the barrel and the share of new wood tends to be much smaller than for white wines of the Cote d’Or.


Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Matthieu Mangenot, Managing Director of Domaine Long-Depaquit in Chablis and Domaine Long-Depaquit Chardonnays

Domaine Long-Depaquit in Chablis belongs to the Bichot family, which today owns 100 hectares of vineyards in Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise thanks to four exceptional estates:

- Domaine Long-Depaquit in Chablis (65 ha ; 160 acres)
- Domaine du Clos Frantin in Nuits-Saint-Georges (13 ha ; 32 acres) for the Côte de Nuits
- Domaine du Pavillon in Pommard (17 ha ; 43 acres) for the Côte de Beaune
- Domaine Adélie in Mercurey (4.5 ha ; 10 acres) for Côte Chalonnaise

Domaine Long Depaquit Chablis Villages 2009 - All in stainless steel. No oak.

Domaine Long Depaquit Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaucopins 2008 - There is 20% oak in this cuvée.

Domaine Long Depaquit Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons 2008 - Just 10% of the final blend sees some oak here.

Domaine Long Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Blanchots 2005

Domaine Long Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2007

Domaine Long Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru La Moutonne 2006

Chardonnays from California :Talley Vineyards in the Central Coast Area

Talley Vineyards is part of Talley Farms, a diversified family farming company in California in the Central Coast area. It was established in 1986 and is today one of California’s acclaimed producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Wines are produced under the Talley Vineyards and Bishop’s Peak brands from over 200 acres of vineyards of the Talley family’s six vineyard sites in two valleys.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Brian Talley

How do they make the Chardonnay? The Chardonnay is cluster sorted and whole cluster pressed. The juice is only minimally settled in tank and then racked into medium-heavy toasted French oak barrels from the Allier and Vosges forests. The level of new oak used depends on the wine, but generally ranges between 25% and 35%. All of the wine is barrel fermented with various cultured yeast strains as well as native yeasts. Maximum fermentation temperatures are cool and range from 68°-74°F to preserve the natural fruit characteristics of the wine. All of the wine ages sur lie and undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity while adding richness and complexity to the finished wine. The Estate and Oliver's Vineyard Chardonnays are typically bottled after 11 months in barrel, while the Rincon Vineyard and Rosemary's Vineyard wines age 14-16 months in barrel.

Bishop's Peak Chardonnay 2007 - crystal clear Central Coast fruit.

Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Estate 2008 - bright and energetic with nice complexity on the back.

Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Rincon Vyd 2007 - rich, deep, and complex.

Dennis Cakebread and his Wines, Napa Valley, at a Winemaker Dinner at Evo Bistro in Virginia

My down-the-road Bistro when I am in McLean, Virginia - Evo Bistro - was the site of a fun winemaker dinner hosted by Dennis Cakebread. Chef Driss Zahidi of Evo Bistro offered a delectable menu paired with the fabulous Cakebread Cellars wines.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Chef Driss Zahidi of Evo Bistro

Cakebread Cellars is a small producer of top wines in the Napa valley. To Cakebread Cellar's original 22 acres, an additional 12, adjacent to the original property, were added in 1982. In 1985, 11 more acres in the Rutherford area were acquired. In 1987, the purchase of the 25-acre River Ranch brought total acreage to 75, all of which in the Rutherford appellation. In 1999, an acquisition added substantial vineyard acreage on Howell Mountain. In addition, Cakebread draws on 400 acres of vineyards over which the Cakebreads exercise full control.

We had a Chardonnay with the hors d’oeuvre.

Passed hors d'oeuvre

Mini crab cakes with lemon aioli
Ahi Tuna in mini fillo cups
Scallops, sesame seeds & passion fruit

2008 Chardonnay, Napa Valley

Technical notes: Grape variety: 100% Chardonnay; Alcoholic Content: 14.5%; Vineyards: 100% Napa Valley; Total Acidity: 0.63g/100ml; pH: 3.65; Harvest Dates: September 4 - October 1, 2008; Fermentation: 92% French Oak & 8% stainless steel; no Malolactic; Barrel-aging: 8 months in French oak, 36% new, with periodic stirring of the lees.

Winemaking notes: After night-harvesting and whole-cluster-pressing the grapes, 92% of the juice was fermented in French oak barrels and 8% in stainless steel tanks. Because the 2008 vintage produced fruit with tremendous varietal intensity and exceptionally well-balanced flavors, the only winemaking intervention required was to select the right barrels to highlight the wine’s lovely natural attributes. The Chardonnay spent eight months aging in French oaks barrels, 36% new, with periodic stirring of the yeast lees to further enrich texture and flavor.

Tasting notes: medium gold in the glass, butter, green apple and spices on the nose, a medium- to full-bodied wined, moderate acidity, creamy, not too oaky, ripe apple and pear flavors on the palate, long, crisp, finish, an elegant California Chardonnay.

Burgundy Wines in South Africa: Hamilton Russell Vineyards


The stop at Hamilton Russell Vineyards, the producer of outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) valley, just behind the seaside resort of Hermanus in Walker Bay, was our last stop on a recent South Africa wine trip, but it was one of our best stops.

The Hamilton Russel Vineyards has become a hallmark of fine South African Pinot Noir and Chardonnay over the last few decades. “We want to produce wines as Burgundian as possible here in South Africa – Wines from South African soil with a Burgundian soul” says Anthony Hamilton Russell, the owner of the estate “notwithstanding the rather warm climate in South Africa. But the climate is rather cool here in the Hemel en Arde valley. And we have the right soil for the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay”.

Hamilton Russell Vineyards produces 20.000 cases of Chardonnay every year. Low yields is one of the guiding principles at Hamilton Russell Vineyards along with organic farming. In 2008, for example, the yields amounted to 35 hectoliters per hectar for the Chardonnay.


Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller and Anthony Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Producer of Outstanding Chardoannay in the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley in South Africa.

Anthony took us through a tasting of 4 Pinot Noirs and 3 Chardonnays, from the vintages 2006 to 2010. Overall, the Chardonnays were tight, mineral wines with length and complexity. They were elegant, yet textured and intense wines with a strong personality of place.

Chardonnay in the Southern Part of Germany: Weingut Bernd Hummel in Malsch

I toured – with the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim – the Kraichgau, the most northern sub-region of Germany’s most southern wine region, Baden, where we visited Wein- and Sektgut Bernd Hummel, located in Malsch. The vineyard area totals just 10 hectares, but Bernd Hummel also buys fruit from other growers, equivalent to 50.000 bottles.

Bernd Hummel led the cellar tour and the tasting. He is - like me - an economist by training, with a passion for wine. Maybe this is the reason, why I like this Wine Estate so much. Bernd got into winemaking through his wife, whose family was growing grapes -like so many in the Baden wine region – for the wine co-operative. He took over the vineyards of his father- in-law and a established a winery 30 years ago. He has been very successful and now ranks – with 2 Gault and Millau Grapes – among the top wineries in the Kraichgau.


Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Bernd Hummel and Otto Baison, from Weingut Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau

His portfolio comprises red and white still wines, sparklers and brandies. Red wine accounts for a little less than half of his wines, with Pinot Noir in the lead. Bernd Hummel is open to new trends and was the first one to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in northern Baden 20 years ago; Merlot followed 10 years later. The top red wines are matured exclusively in new barriques, all of French oak, and at varying toasting levels. Bernd Hummel uses in good years up to 300 barrels. Bottle-fermented sparkling wines as well as brandies are also produced. Bernd Hummel sells 85 % of his wines directly to the consumer. The remainder goes to a few restaurants and retailers. Nothing is exported.

We started the cellar tour with a 2007 Chardonnay Sekt brut, methode traditionelle, which impressed me very much and reminded me of a Champagne. Bernd Hummel produces his Sekts all by himself and lets them age for at least 30 months.


schiller-Wine: Related Postings

Sylvain Bzikot's Puligny Montrachet, Bourgogne, France

Meeting Matthieu Mangenot, Managing Director of Domaine Long-Depaquit in Chablis, France and Tasting His Wines

The Best Chardonnays of the World - The 17th Annual Chardonnay du Monde® Wine Competition 2010

The California Central Coast Wines of Talley Vineyards

Dennis Cakebread and his Wines, Napa Valley, at EVO Bistro, Virginia

Where the SAP Bosses Buy Their Wines – Weingut Bernd Hummel in Baden, Germany

Burgundy Wines in South Africa: Hamilton Russell Vineyards

As Close as You Can Get to (French) Champagne at the US East Coast – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar

1 comment:

  1. Matthieu MangenotMay 28, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Dear Christian,

    Thank you for your link, very nice article honoring the Chardonnay Day.

    Congratulations for your blog and your contribution to make the wines easier to discover !

    A très bientôt à Chablis ou aux Etats-Unis,

    Bien cordialement,


    Matthieu Mangenot
    Régisseur

    ReplyDelete