- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Clos LaChance, Unoaked Chardonnay, Monterey County, 2005, $13

Chardonnay can be something of a chameleon, adopting different flavors in different circumstances. Exposure to oak, whether through barrel fermentation, barrel aging, or both, gives wines made with this variety a buttery, sometimes spicy, almost popcornlike character. They can be delicious, but they taste as much of the wood as of the grape.

Unoaked chardonnays present a different profile. They are lighter in body, and taste fresher, with clean fruit flavors and nary a hint of butter or cream. Sometimes they seem simple and one-dimensional, but when the grapes have been harvested with care and yields have not crept too high, they can be delightfully nuanced and refined.

Clos LaChance’s unoaked chardonnay, from California’s cool Monterey County, presents a veritable fruit salad of enticing flavors. It tastes of apples and green melons, with underlying hints of peaches and pears. Nicely balanced, the wine stays in focus due to its evident but not forceful acidity.

With warm weather on the horizon, it will provide good drinking with light supper fare such as chicken or crab salad.

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