2019 Hess “Select” Chardonnay, Monterey County, California, USA (Alcohol 13.9%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO Vintages $24.95 (750ml bottle)
I’m not usually drawn towards bigger styles of Chardonnay, preferring the wines which lean towards the angular and austere, although every now and again I’ll come back to a riper, fruit-forward style and be rather pleasantly surprised, and that’s the case with this example from Hess, California.
The potent bouquet is a mélange of ultra ripe tropical fruits, banana, peach, chamomile, pineapple upside-down cake with cinnamon, and toasty oak spice. I’ll be honest with you here and admit that it took a while for my olfactory senses to come to terms with the aromatics, having been unaccustomed to such an assailing of fruitiness for such a long time.
It’s a rich, crowd-pleasing style, that’s for sure, the 6 grams of residual sugar making themselves most apparent at the front and mid of the palate, but there’s a cheeky little spank of Central Coast acidity preventing the wine from being in any way cloying. Texturally it’s a bigger wine, for sure, and its undeniably butyraceous nature (read: buttery/creamy) will make it a firm favourite with those who enjoy the more generous styles of Chardonnay. The lemony finish is a rather pleasant sign off, too.
Coming back to this weightier take on Chardonnay had me thinking about where this would sit at the dinner table, and I began to get rather nostalgic.
I know many who would choose to drink this all by itself, but I was thinking more towards richer dishes sauced with the terribly unfashionable beurre blanc. Beurre blanc done properly can be such a delight, and it’s a pity we don’t see it more often in 2023. So I’m thinking richer fish/shellfish: lobster, monkfish, scallops, crab, all with a delectably piquant beurre blanc.
I’m going to pick up another bottle of this and whip up some beurre blanc in the coming weeks. Now, I wonder if I can remember how to make it…
(Three and a half out of a possible five apples)