Thursday, September 10, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh?

Our view looking south.
OK I couldn't resist the "eh" in the title of this review. And it's meant with absolutely no disrespect at all to our neighbors up north. The Winey Family loves Canada. We have spent many, many happy times up there and this year was no exception.

The Winey Hubby and his family have been going to a small beach in Ontario for a LONG time. Before the Winey Hubby was born, actually. It's that kind of a family institution for them, and this year, we did the math and figured out that the family has owned this little patch of heaven for 95 years. We're gearing up for a big bash for the centennial in 2020, by the way.

Winey Daughter and Dog with our
houses in the background. 
The beach town is called Ipperwash. I don't know why. It just is. And when anyone around here says "the beach" we know just what they are talking about. (This is sort of like when I say "the shore"and everyone knows I am referring to my beloved Jersey shore.) It's located on sands of Lake Huron. Our little compound consists of three buildings that between them, can house 6 families. Or as we like to say, "the cousins," because over the years, as children marry and families grow, we have just started calling each other cousins. One of said cousins can actually figure out all the first, seconds, thirds and removeds.....but my mind can't handle that.
Our view looking north. 

The fact that the beach is in Canada has opened up a whole new world of wines for me over the years, and I decided that it was high time I started to write about some of them. So here we go.

It was so nice and hot up at the beach this year that I decided to sip on some lovely white wines. I love unoaked Chardonnays, and I picked two of them to try first. Boy, were they different.

20 Bees Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, Ontario, 12%) had a cute label. No judging, it was the beach after all. And a very good price, which was $9.95 Canadian, which at the time, translated to about $6.95 American. I would like to add here that such conversion only works on currency. I had a birthday while we were at the beach, and trying to convert my age to Canadian only got me laughed at. Back to the wine: 20 Bees comes from the Diamond Estate Winery over in Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of our all time favorite places to visit, by the way. This wine is best served very, very cold, because 1) It was hot and 2) the flavors really came out the more it chilled. The nose is of faint pear and yellow apples. The flavors were pear, and some very mellow, gold apple. It ended slightly tart green apples and nutmeg. These bees felt round and full in the mouth, too. This was a great unoaked Chardonnay! The grapes really shone on this one, no wood barrels needed here. And yes, you still got that little bite of warm nutmeg spice at the end of it. Well done, bees, well done.

Moving on, also from the Diamond Estates Winery, I tried the $13.95 (Canadian) EastDell Unoaked Chardonnay (2013, Niagara Peninsula, 12.5%). The nose on this wine was ripe pears and some vanilla pudding. The flavors were pear, red apple, nutmeg and it finished off with some sour apple. Would I compare it to 20 Bees? Nope. Because while 20 Bees felt round and full in mouth, EastDell just felt thick and flabby. No sharpness to the taste all....and it was too "cloying" for my taste buds to enjoy.

So while these were two unoaked Chards, they were very very different in taste. The grapes for 20 Bees were from all over Ontario, while the EastDell grapes were from Niagara. The tasting notes for the wines said that the 20 Bees were fermented in stainless steel for 12 days...but the EastDell spent 8 months fermenting. So I can assume that the vineyard location and the length of fermentation both made a big difference to my taste buds here. While one was lively and tasty, the other was just thick and flabby.

I really don't mind when I get a wine I don't like...at least once I get past the whole bummed out thing...because with each wine I don't like, I learn so much more about the ones I do.

If you get the chance, and you are in Ontario, go with the 20 Bees. If you can't visit, learn from my experience that not all unoaked Chardonnays will be to your taste. If you're in a restaurant, ask for a little taste first. If you are in a wine store, check with The Winey Mom first to see if I've tried it (shameless little plug) and if not, talk to the folks who work there. It'll help you choose a zesty unoaked Chard instead of a dud.

Cheers!

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