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SuperBOWL 2002

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White Burgundy - without equal?

reporters: Ray Abercromby (RA) and Nick Alabaster (NA)

Tutored by Tom Cannavan, this was the first of the three seminars at the superBOWL event. As with the others, this was a relaxed, fun tasting and provided good comparisons of Chardonnay around the World. Overall the group were able to spot the Burgundy from the New World example each time, so my notes and guesses probably arenít too far off the groupís impression as a whole. The wines were tasted in pairs, matched on vintage and retail price by and large. The colours were generally light and I wasnít aware that the colour was giving anything away as you might have thought. (NA).

All of these wines generously supplied by Berry Bros. & Rudd, except Errazuriz Chardonnay, supplied by Hatch-Mansfield Agency.

flight one

2000 Bourgogne Blanc, Etienne Sauzet (£11.45)
Fresh butter cut through with citrus fruit on the nose; this is of course Burgundy. Palate confirms with fruit fruit, gentle buttery notes and a lovely acid balance. Guess Village/low 1er Cru from Puligny? (NA). Light/pale yellow. Tight, lean, but a good acid backbone and long finish. Good. (RA)

2000 Felton Road Chardonnay (NZ) (£10.95)
First whiff is of green fruits, apples and greengages, uhmm, this is probably New World but it's a cool climate version if it is. On then palate though is certainly has a New World feel, it's quite soft, with enough acid though, again the fruits veering towards the green. There's very good restraint in the oaking too. Guess, from NZ? (NA). Yellow-gold, with honey on the nose. Warm fruit, creamy, buttery mouthfeel, well-integrated oak with elegant acid giving good balance. Long finish. Excellent. (RA).

flight two

2000 Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay (Chile) (£9.99)
Typical tropical fruity nose from New World fruit. Soft palate although this has enough to support but itís a simple, nicely put together wine that shows no obvious oak. Guess Unoaked Ozzie? (NA). Medium-yellow. Closed nose at the outset, opening up later to give lemon and citrus scents. Fresh citrus flavours, with almost a flinty edge to it. Very burgundian in style. Good. (RA).

1999 St. Aubin Le Charmois, Colin-Deleger (£16.95)
Initially a bit of (to me) dirtiness on the nose, but quite likely as Tom pointed out some sulphur as it cleared within a few minutes. Tight steely nose, minerals and citrus and no obvious oak. This has impressive structure but needs to develop to give more than it does today, but itís balanced and intense enough to warrant more ageing. Guess: Chablis? (NA). Clear yellow, Chemical/gluey nose, medium fruit, moderate length and butterscotch hints. Alcohol noticeable. Good/very good. (RA).

flight three

1999 Chateau Montelena, The Estate Chardonnay (USA) (£23.95)
Classy barrel fermented wine, oaking nicely done, complex and buttery with some good fruit coming through. My initial though was a classy Oz but then on the palate thereís a firmness you donít get from Oz, a firmness from the acid and alcohol which I associated more with the states and now also from SA. This is a good powerful New World chardonnay though, with a good attempt at balance and restraint. Guess Top SA/US? (NA). Medium yellow, slight citrus on nose, oaky hints, then opens up into a buttery, full fat, alcoholic style, while not being flabby. Good length, but very American tasting. Very good. (RA).

1998 Meursault Villages, Domaine Michelot (£18.95)
Somewhat odd nose in comparison, notes of butter, honey, even perhaps botrytis and a milky edge. This seems to be a overripe wine, somewhat like the super-ripe wines of Thevenet in Macon. On the palate there's a rich, complex wine which follows the nose which isn't quite as fat and sweet as the Macons I'm thinking of, but nothing else comes to mind. Guess Mâcon from a producer that likes to push the boundary (NA). Yellow, citrus-led nose, with smooth fruit and good acid. Reasonable length. Otherwise nondescript. Good. (RA).

flight four

1998 Mount Mary Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Australia (£34.95)
Lots of expensive oak and lees stirring going on her, typical of a Oz wines trying to go all Burgundian (and as all before then failing). On the palate the oak is ever present but there's a nice balance to this wine and actually drinks pretty well even to an oak-a-phobe like me. Guess a top Ozzie (NA). Yellow, with green hints. Elegant nose of fruit and oak. creamy-mellow, palate, hint of lime, warm and friendly, with very good length. A wonderfully structured wine. Excellent (RA).

1998 Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots, Defaix (£36.95)
By default this must be the expected Grand Cru. A bit off bottle stink blew off although the nose underneath was relatively restrained, tight fruit and gentle barrel handling. On the palate the intensity is there, and builds to a good long finish, lots of layers and complexity but this is very, very young clearly. Guess: Certainly Grand Cru class, not as much oak as Iíd expect from a young Grand Cru Ė and I really havenít a clue in which region to place it (NA). Pale yellow. Citrus nose (again!), with hints of oak. Alcoholic mouthfeel, intense flavours, with a powerful acid streak running through. Not a blockbuster, and feels young/tight. Long length. Very good/excellent. (RA).

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