The SOMM Journal

October / November 2016

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Page 87 of 132

{ }  87 The wines were all served at the same time and started off well chilled, prompting Eduardo to comment to Jack, "I'd like to comment on the temperature of your fridge." As the wines warmed up in their glasses and they tasted and re-tasted two to three times each, the sommeliers revised their comments. Observing the methodology used by the sommeliers while they tasted and wrote down notes was as uniquely charac - teristic as the wines they described. Michaël dissected each wine with lengthy, detailed notes before offering his opinion to the group. Jeff, the most relaxed, took sparse notes and focused instead on adding more commentary to the conver - sation. Eduardo was the most vocal, with an opinion on each wine, helping to drive the conversation. Interestingly, while the others seemed to evaluate the wines strictly, Eduardo took notes based on whether he would recommend the wine in his restaurants. Jack took light but targeted notes that made an impact on the group as he spoke them, and it was a joy to watch him reveal his thoughts. The tasting was an exercise in the merits of Chardonnay from both sides of the Atlantic and from two distinct and world-class regions: Northern California and France's Burgundy (which the Burgundians now prefer us to call Bourgogne, even in English—see pages 74–77). It was also an exercise in testing the palates of some of the world's top young sommeliers. No matter how frequently you taste a wine, when it's blind your senses are tested in a whole different way. This blind tasting really drove home the point—or should we say "dug in"? The participants' notes on the possible origins of the wines included Washington State, Australia, Chablis, Chile, the Jura and, of course, Burgundy and California. When the Big Reveal came, a collective gasp went around the table accompanied by an expressive "Wow!" The "take home" from this event was that 40 years after the Judgment of Paris, California Chardonnays continue to stand up to the best of Burgundy and raise the bar for the world's most revered white varietal. And, once again, we learned there is always room to test and expand your pal - ate even when you are at the top of your game. Standouts from the Tasting The Jordan 2014 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley was the top pick of Edoardo Porto- Carreiro, who noted its "wonderful wine-drinking energy." Tight at first, the Benoît Ente 2014 Puligny- Montrachet AOC opened beautifully and became a favorite of three of the panelists. THE WINES in order of tasting Bouchard Père & Fils 2013 Meursault Les Clous "Ripe yellow fruit, kiss of oak, saline and well-balanced acidity." —Jack Mason HENRIOT INC. Jordan 2009 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley "Fruit and oak on the nose, baked pear flavors, good structure. A nice example of an aged Chardonnay. Would recommend." —Edoardo Porto Carreiro Louis Latour 2013 Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru "Hint of mango and golden apple. Well balanced oak but not super long on the finish. Driven by flavors more than terroir." —Michaël Engelmann LOUIS LATOUR INC. Jordan 2013 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley "Very lean with no real oak presence. Maintains fruit through the finish. New World style." —Jack Mason "Crisp, green melon. Would buy." —Michaël Englemann Jordan 2014 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley "A good balance of sweet fruit against the alcohol. This wine has a wonderful wine-drinking energy." —Edoardo Porto Carreiro (his top pick) "I'd really enjoy cracking open a bottle of this and drinking it with friends." —Jeff Kellogg Louis Latour 2012 Puligny-Montrachet Les Truffières Premier Cru "More expensive oak. Pronounced caramel. Obvious lees contact, reduc- tive notes. Well-made, more Burgundy-esque." —Michaël Engelmann LOUIS LATOUR INC. Kistler Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay Les Noisetiers, Sonoma Coast "Very ripe, spice, canned peaches." —Jack Mason "Vanilla extract, peaches in simple syrup and a sweet finish." —Edoardo Porto Carreiro "Ripe peach, botrytis, some r.s." —Michaël Engelmann Benoît Ente 2014 Puligny-Montrachet AOC The tasting's top wine for three of the four sommeliers, the Benoît Ente did not elicit a positive response at first due to its youth and acidity. However, it opened up beautifully. "Green apple. Great minerality. Still needs time." —Michaël Engelmann "Reductive and very lean." —Jack Mason "Sa-weet!" –Jeff Kellogg DNS WINES Bouchard Père & Fils 2013 Chassagne-Montrachet AOC "Notes of Red Delicious apple and fresh herbs." —Edoardo Porto Carreiro "Leesy with notes of white chalk." —Jack Mason "Briny with a fresh finish. Botrytis? Would buy." —Michaël Engelmann HENRIOT INC. Rombauer Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay, Carneros "Over-the-top Cali style." —Jack Mason "Lots of oak. Lots of fruit. Obvious California style." —Michaël Engelmann "Sweet oak. Corn pudding. Pronounced residual sugar." —Edoardo Porto Carreiro Of the four sommeliers, two were able to guess a label blind. Michaël pegged the Benoît Ente correctly, and Eduardo identified the Rombauer.

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