Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Old Chardonnay continues: Chalone vs…Chalone?

Things have really been heating up in the store closeout bin. As I mentioned earlier, we recently acquired two cellars. Anything of significant perceived market value goes on to the old and rare racks, which leaves some other stuff destined for the closeout bin. Yesterday I saw a large selection of Chalone Chardonnay from the 1980’s, and picked up a few bottles, as well as a bottle of 1988 Roger Lassserat 'Clos de France' Pouilly Fuisse, with a tag stating that it was shipped by Kermit Lynch and imported by – Chalone Inc. I will always have fond memories of Chalone, since the 1986 Chalone Pinot Blanc is the first quality wine I remember sipping as a youngin’, the first wine that left a detailed mark in my tasting memory bank.

So the comparison yesterday was between a 1985 Chalone Chardonnay and the aforementioned 1988 Lasserat Pouilly Fuisse. The former had something between an 18k and 24k gold color, a baked apple and werthers original nose and flavors that, while mature, still showed life, as well as its ripe, central coastal California ubringing. The Pouilly Fuisse smelled of wet clay and chalk (one co-worker likened the nose to Kraft Mac & Cheese, which was actually a good call) and showed lots of creamy minerality, though not much else on the mid-palate. Disjointed, weird acidity on the finish. Later on with dinner, the wine showed better, while the Chalone became tiresome to drink. Both wines weren’t without their merits, but for the most part this was more of an academic exercise rather than one in pleasure. I’ll consider this head to head, France vs US, Chalone the winery vs Chalone the importer/distributor battle, a draw.

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