Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TN: Tasty Chardonnay and Merlot (!!!)

Chardonnay and Merlot may be the current whipping boys of the wine world, but I think that's mainly because they can be great when done right. It just frustrates folks that wines shooting for either the mass market or critical acclaim often end up so out of whack. Well, here are a couple of wines that deliver the goods.

The Kynsi 2008 Clone 76 Chardonnay really has everything I like in a white wine along with the added body a well-made Chardonnay can carry. I'm not sure why the winery highlighted the clonal selection on this bottling, though a quick Google search will turn up links stating it's a Dijon Clone. I suppose Dijon Clones are all the rage in Pinot Noir (115, 667, 777, etc.), so why not Chardonnay too? Hard to say whether it's the producer or the clone, but there's an extra depth here that I don't usually get in domestic Chardonnay. For $18, this ain't a cheap white, but it really delivers. Just a hair under 14% ABV at 13.9%, pretty reasonable for a CA Chard, and definitely not hot.

The L'Ecole No. 41 2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot has everything I look for in a red wine. This is a little young yet and has its share of new oak. But what I really appreciate here is the delicate balance of ripeness, neither too herbal or too jammy. There's a ton of structure, too. Think Cabernet-like structure, but a little friendlier and less imposing. I've been enjoying Merlot and Cab Franc based blends from Carneros, and this seems to offer the same spirit of density and complexity as Carneros reds. I picked this up for $20, though it's intended to retail for around $35. It'll suffice to say I wouldn't feel cheated at all at $35. Great wine, great Merlot, and it's a shame--albeit lucky for me--that this wine fell through the cracks to the discount pile. It deserves better.
  • 2008 Kynsi Chardonnay Clone 76 - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Stunning Chardonnay. Nice lemon zest and slightly tropical aromas. Full bodied, a little buttery even, yet fresh. Layered flavors. Gets a bit earthy on the finish, while the acidity adds a mouth-watering component. Flat out delicious with loads of concentration. Doesn't have the nasty burnt popcorn quality that ruins so many Chards, yet gets the texture and body that ML and sur lees aging can bring. Well done!

  • 2006 L'Ecole No. 41 Merlot Seven Hills Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
    This is a stunning Merlot. Complex, nuanced aromas and layered flavors. Leather, floral, spice and cherry aromas on the nose--a true bouquet that is elevated above individual components. Hits on the palate with fresh red fruit, then elegantly transitions to a long, coffee-filled finish. No rough edges. A lot of structure here even if the tannin and acid isn't obtrusive. A fair amount of oak, though very complimentary. Just the right mix of restrained fruit, hints of herbaceous flavors and secondary aromas. For those who prefer nuanced new world wines. Seems age-worthy based on structure and tightly wound palate.

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