The candidates were chosen, running mates too. Opinion polls are silent, votes are in and counted. Two unlikely winners have emerged...
By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist
In the world of wine, if Cab is King, Chardonnay must be his Queen. When putting together the recent flights of blind tastings we tried to include a variety of styles and price points from all over the globe to represent the truly international dominance of these grapes. We had some obscure dark horses and some out and out favorites. But when the old brown bag comes into the picture the playing field is leveled and reputations dashed.
We started with ten Chardonnays the Blind Chardonnay Tasting last Friday night in Redwood City, followed by eleven Cabernets on Saturday afternoon. Attendants to each tasting were asked to taste through the blind lineup and cast a single vote for their favorite wine. After voting, they received the wine legend.
Queue a lot of swirling, slurping and head scratching! Some people confidently scribbled down notes, country, region even producer, while others professed themselves completely baffled, taking only random stabs at price point and nation.
When all was said and done I was pleasantly surprised by the results, as were many of the participants.
Your 2012 blind Chardonnay Tasting Champion (drum roll please….)
And your King of Cabernet :
Back to back wins for NZ and Oz!
These two wines triumphed over some prestigious Napa wines, Premier Cru Burgundy and everything the rest of the world could muster, with some challengers at three times the price! Scroll down to check out the complete lineups for both tastings at the end of this article and you will see that the competition was serious.
Craggy Range is one of New Zealand's leading producers that focuses on highly prestigious single vineyard wines that illustrate remarkble micro-climates around these spectacular islands. The Kidnapper's Vineyard is situated in Hawkes Bay, right up against the pacific ocean, on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island. The vineyard is named after the nearby Cape Kidnapper's, a headland that takes it's name from a dramatic abduction of one of Captain Cook's crew by indigenous Māori in 1792.
The vines grow literally a stones throw from the surf. This situe has a notable impact on the wines aromatics and flavor as this coastal proximity has imparted a distinct saline quality upon the wine. Most importantly the vineyard is cooled by brisk sea breezes keeping this wine bright and crisp with a nice zippy acidity. The grapes have a long hang time and this slow ripening allows excellent flavor develoment.
In the winemaking process the Kidnapper's Chardonnay is lightly whole bunch pressed into neutral oak tanks for fermentation. 10% goes to new French Oak Puncheons (double size barrels that impart much less flavor). This chablis-like style of production compliments the vineyards cool, crisp, mineral and saline flavor profile. The restraint, balance and complexity of this wine really surpasses it's very modest price point. Here is a link to Craggy Range’s website for more info about this spectacular vineyard site and the winemaking process. Craggy Range's Kidnapper's Vineyard.
The Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon is a truly historic wine. Vasse Felix was the first winery established in the now renowned Margaret River region of Western Australia. Planting vines in 1967 Vasse Felix has made this estate Cabernet every vintage since 1972 and continues as a leading family owned estate today. The fruit for this wine comes from the Wilyabrup sub-region known for producing world class cabernet. Vasse's neighbors include Cullen Estate and Moss Wood who make prolific Cab based wines themselves. You can see from the map below again the ocean plays a huge role in tempering the climate in Margaret River. This region gets pretty warm during the summer months but the frigid southern ocean is a constant factor cooling the winds and allowing greater flavor development and acid retention in the grapes.
The 2009 Vasse Felix Cab shows archetypal Margaret River Cabernet characters. Concentrated black and blue fruits (think fresh blackberries and blueberries combined) with aromatic minty and subtle eucalyptus hints. With air the wine shows some thyme and cedar notes with dusty soil qualities. The wine is concentrated and powerful but without being over saturated or extracted. It has impeccable balance and a fine but persistent tannin structure.
We hope you get a chance to try some of these winning wines, available now in our stores and on KLWines.com. Our blind tasting series has been a great success with lots of positive feedback from our customers, which means you can look forward to more blind tastings in the future! We invite you to come on down and attend the next one, or perhaps be inspired to stage a blind tasting of your own at home! You can follow us on Uncorked for updates and on Facebook and K&L Local Events for future listings and details.
Blind Chardonnay Line Up:
1: 2010 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Blanc Dom. Yves Girardin, Burgundy, France $14.99
2: 2010 Craggy Range “Kidnappers Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hawkes bay, New Zealand $16.99
3: 2011 “Heggies” Chardonnay, Eden Valley, Australia $19.99
4: 2009 Dom. Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Champs Gain" Burgundy, France $59.99
5: 2010 Clos Pepe “Barrel Fermented” Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, California $22.99
6: 2009 Brick House "Cascadia" Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Oregon $32.99
7: 2010 Te Whare Ra Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand $24.99
8: 2010 Cakebread Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California $34.99
9: 2008 Monteviejo "Lindaflor" Chardonnay Valle de Uco Mendoza $19.99 (was $30)
10: 2010 Daniel De Wet "Limestone Hill" Chardonnay Robertson, South Africa $15.99
Blind Cabernet Line Up:
1: 2009 Sapaio "Volpolo"Bolgheri, Italy $32.99
2: 2009 La Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien, Bordeaux, France $49.99
3: 2009 Fabre Montmayou Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina $15.99
4: 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99
5: 2010 Reyneke "Capstone" Red Bordeaux Blend, Stellenbosch, South Africa $24.99
6: 2008 Attila Gere Cabernet Sauvignon, Villany, Hungary $21.99
7: 2001 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva, Penedes, Spain $39.99
8: 2008 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, USA $21.99
9: 2009 Kathryn Kennedy "Small Lot Cabernet", Santa Cruz Mountains, CA, USA $32.99
10: 2010 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, USA $69.99
11: 2009 Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, USA $37.99