The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 111 of 128

THE MALLEABILITY OF THIS GRAPE INSPIRED OUR RECENT BLIND SPEED TASTING W Wilfred Wong is the Cellar Master for BevMo! and was our host and lead panelist for this special blind speed tasting, held at the company's new corporate offi ces in Concord, CA. photos by Nikki Ritcher hether fat and buttery, lean and structured, tropical and fruity or clean and mineral-edgy, Chardonnay is perhaps the most versatile of all varietals. It all begins with one little grape, but distinct terroir, winemaker infl uence and aging techniques come together in a swirl of possibilities to result in the wide range of styles that make Chardonnay so interesting and unique. THE TASTING PANEL, ever intrigued by the charms of Chardonnay, decided to explore the realm of possibilities in the varietal's expression in the glass, and we invited a few of our favorite Northern California buyers to join us as we delved into Chards from around the world. We set up our Chardonnay Headquarters at BevMo!'s corporate offi ce in Concord, CA, where Cellar Master Wilfred Wong joined our panel of eight of the most infl uential decision- and taste-makers in and around San Francisco and Napa Valley as we blind tasted our way through ten fabulous Chards. During 45 minutes of tasting, swishing and spitting, our panel dis- cussed everything from whether a wine is more suitable for a retail or restaurant environment, to pondering general sales trends for unoaked versus oaky Chards. For instance, Petra Polakovicova, Wine Director at San Francisco's Epic Roasthouse, says that Chardonnay continues to be the most popular varietal, but notes that less oaked versions are ahead of oaky-style offerings. Eduardo Dingler, Wine Director at Napa's Morimoto admits that while most food does "not cater to large-style whites, demand for these monsters does exist. But we also sell a lot of lean Chardonnays." The roundtable format continued as each Chard was revealed and presented by a brand representative, and from the ten Chards in our glass that day, the variety expressed was tremendous. "It is so important to have this type of communication," explained Wong, who is a major part of the team that oversees wine selections in all BevMo! locations, including the retail chain's most recent expansion into Washington State. "We're all part of the same community that is working to bring the customer the best wines possible," says Wong. Cheers to that, and cheers to Chardonnay! —Meridith May august 2012 / the tasting panel / 111

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