Chardonnay Blind Tasting: The Results
By Triangle Around Town
It seems like Chardonnay is a love it or hate it type of wine. Sure, it's always in a sprint with Cabernet Sauvignon as the most popular grape varietal in the world. Do you like it oaky? You know ... super buttery and so yellow it looks like some gross science experiment water. Or do you like your Chardonnay that crisp, clean and almost clear in appearance? Everyone has their opinion on what they like best. And so do we. As a whole, Triangle Around Town's Jennifer and Dathan don't really drink a lot of Chardonnay wine. We don't turn it away at tastings. As bloggers and fans of wine in general, we'll try anything once. And in doing so, we have actually found some amazing Chardonnay wine – but usually it's a dime a dozen for us.
But with Chardonnay Day just ending on May 24, 2018, we decided to ask our friend Chris Morton who does a Facebook series titled 7 at 7 every night here in Raleigh, as well as our nextdoor neighbor, Matt, to take part in a blind tasting with us. It was easy. We put together a tasting sheet – 5 categories – 5 points total in each. We had appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish. For a grand total of 100 points per wine. Jen, Chris and Matt did not know which wines were being poured. They didn't know the region, the vintage or the price range. Just 4 different white wines poured for them in 4 individual glasses. For Dathan's results, Chris mixed up the wines and poured in a different order.
Below is the complete list of wines we sampled – the results, the winery, the location and the average retail value.
1. 2016 Meiomi Chardonnay
Location: Acampo, California
This California Chardonnay was made using grapes from three different regions in the state – Monterey County (37 percent), Sonoma County (33 percent) and Santa Barbara County (30 percent). This wine scored a total of 63.5 out of 100 points. We paid $14 for the bottle, and that's exactly what it tasted like ... a $15 Chardonnay. The color was light and the taste was crisp. But according to a few of us, this Chardonnay tasted like it would be mass produced for "housewives" to open in the middle of the day. The body was decent in this wine and we did get aromas of melon, lime and steel. A couple of us got a little bit of pineapple in the back once the wine opened up to right below room temperature. Would we drink again? For a inexpensive bottle of Chardonnay that fits the "bill" ... sure.
2. 2017 Estate de Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay
Location: South Africa
Unoaked and grapes grown in limestone made this 100 percent Chardonnay almost taste like a Riesling – or as one taste said "Muscadine," due to its sweetness. This wine received a grand total of 56 out of 100. The nose was very light, almost no aroma at all came from this wine poured directly from the bottle. Another reviewer said this would be a "porch pounder" for a warm, Summer day. This wouldn't be a heavy Chardonnay you'd want to pair with a meal. Would probably go well with oysters or light protein such as veal.
3. 2017 Medaloni Cellars Signature Series Chardonnay
Location: Lewisville, North Carolina
We hate to say this, but this wine received the lowest score of the night, only getting a grand total of 52.5 out of 100. We all think we opened this wine a little too soon, but you do have to be careful what you say. One of our reviewers is a wine club member at Medaloni and tried this wine several weeks back – and said it compares with any Chardonnay grown in California. And out of a total of 25 points, only gave this wine an 11. We do have to admit, that trying this wine a couple days later it did get a lot better. We are all fans of this winery, and hope in time this will only get better. And we still have another one sitting in the wine cellar, so we will get that opportunity.
Note: This brings up a good point. Should labels be put on "new" wines that need age? Think in the likes of Stone Brewing Company's "Enjoy By ..." series. They tell you to enjoy that select IPA before a certain date. Should newer released wines say, Best opened after a certain date? Talk amongst yourselves.
4. 2016 Mácon-Villages Chardonnay
Ladies and Gentlemen ... meet our highest scoring wine of the blind tasting. This wine scored a total of 72.5 out of 100 – it beat the next wine by a total of 9 points. This Chardonnay was the truest to form in both taste and appearance. It wasn't that buttery, cat pee yellow of real oaky Chards, but still had the right amount to "creaminess" to please the stainless steel and oak-barrel drinkers alike. With hints of lemon and pear and a crisp taste and floral nose, this wine was our true favorite.
So what does all this tell us? For one thing, the four of us are tough critics. Only one wine received 5 points and that was the Mácon in both appearance and finish. Plus, only one of us was a true Chardonnay fan – but that still doesn't mean we don't know what good Chardonnay tastes like. What we're comparing to are wines by such vineyards of South Africa's Hamilton Russell, Sonoma's Pellegrini and Geyserville's Trione Vineyards.
But remember, we all have different tastes. What we say we don't like, might be one of your favorites. We suggest you go try all these wines for yourself and tell us if you agree or disagree with our final results.