Thursday, July 16, 2015

Washington Chardonnay vs. Chablis

The Tour de France completed its first week of racing this past Sunday.  Normally the first week of a grand tour is relatively straight forward with multiple flat stages that favor the sprinters and a couple of more difficult "hilly" stages for the one day race specialists that are commonly called "roeleurs" or "puncheurs."

This year the first week of racing featured exciting racing every day with the yellow jersey changing hands almost daily.  There were big crashes, exciting finishes and general mayem.  In other words, an absolutely perfect compliment to the Lucha Vino challenge.

The first challenge of this year's le Tour features a Washington Chardonnay taking on a challenger from Chablis.

Cloudlift 2011 Chardonnay v.  Domaine Servin 2013 Les Pargues Chablis

Tale of the Tape

Cloudlift 2011 Columbia Valley Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay from the Bacchus Vineyard

Aged in a combination of new and neutral French Oak Barrels

Purchased at the winery for $18

Domaine Servin Les Pargues 2013 Chablis 

100% Chardonnay from the Les Pargues Vineyard

Purchased at Metropolitan Market for $23

Round 1.  First opening

Here comes Cloudlift, entering the ring with some serious swagger!  The nose is showing some woodsy white meadow wild flowers, pears, cantaloupe and honeydew melon.  The palate is similar with more floral notes followed by tart tropical notes finishing with a mean streak of acidity and a slightly nutty character.

The Chablis challenger isn't intimidated by Cloudlift's aggressive start.  Gliding and circling the ring with a nose that features funky forest floor minerality with grapefruit zest and notes of straw.  The palate brings more emphasis to the mineral driven notes of citrus fruit and a stoney finish with a lighter jab of acidity.

Cloudlift takes round 1 with a more aggressive strategy.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Cloudlift is hanging in there with a nose that retains its character from the first round with a nose of white meadow flowers, straw, pears and melon.  The palate is solid with floral and tropical notes chased by acidity that is still going strong.

Domaine Servin is still getting down and getting funky.  The nose is showing funky musty citrus notes mingled with some petrol undertones.  The palate is showing a surprising contrast with white meadow flowers and lemon zest that repeats on a finish carried by citrus fueled acidity.

The Challenger from Chablis claims the points in round 2, fighting back with a variety of kung fu moves.

Round 3.  One day after opening

This is it.  The match comes down to the final round with our two combatants tied up at 1 point each.  Who will take the glory?  Which one of our Chardonnay brawlers has the bigger suitcase of courage?

Cloudlift is showing some serious stamina, entering the ring for round 3 flexing some serious muscle.  The nose is showing honeysuckle, white flowers, straw, pears and lemon zest.  The palate is similar featuring honeydew melon, lemon zest, meadow flowers  intertwined with slight tones of underbrush finishing with a good wallop of acidity.

Stepping into the ring for round 3, the Chablis is continuing the funky attack like a tasty Bootsy Collins bass riff.  The nose is  pungent with notes of funky mushrooms, forest floor and mineral driven tropical notes.   The palate is balancing out the attack with lemon, white flowers and a sweet finish that is still featuring some good acidity.

Showing remarkable consistency, the Cloudlift Chardonnay takes round 3, delivering the goods while maintaining stamina throughout the match.

Wrap up and overall observations

Both of these Chardonnays showed consistent character throughout the match.

The Cloudlift's barrel aging added some nice barrel notes to the mix without getting into that crazy buttery California Chardonnay zone.

The Domaine Servin was interesting, driven by unky mineral character.

I would definitely recommend both of these Chardonnays as excellent summer time thirst quenchers!

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