Aussie and California chardonnays

Perhaps it’s my close proximity to California (being in neighboring Nevada and all) but there seems to be an abundance of California chardonnays on the shelves, so that is what I’ve been drawn to in my question to educate myself on this varietal.

So tonight when I saw Lindeman’s 2010 Bin 65 Chardonnay (Australia) on sale for $6.99, I decided it was time to mix it up a bit, and maybe even put it next to a California chard I have in the fridge (Cupcake 2010 chardonnay).

The nearly colorless wine intrigued me at the first pour. It has just a flush of light yellow, but is otherwise crystal clear. The aroma is light with barely there notes of pear and vanilla.

I sipped the wine and was pleasantly surprised by its tart feel and absence of bite. It’s refreshing – a pleasant wake-up call, not a jarring alarm clock. In fact, the flavor is so fresh and fleeting that it could be the perfect palate-cleanser. That’s not to say it lacks taste; no, the taste is there and delicious, but it doesn’t linger.

The label’s tasting notes mention melon, but I don’t taste that. It’s dry without inducing a pucker. I think this is a wine best served very cold on a very hot day.

How does this compare to the prolific California chards I can’t seem to avoid? I recently wrote that chardonnays have a telltale hint of buttered popcorn. I wonder now if that’s a California thing, because there is NO popcorn in my Aussie glass.

Re-tasting the Cupcake chard, I definitely taste butter, vanilla and honey. Even the color is a darker honey hue. It’s like a slice of smooth fruit – a mango, perhaps – dipped in vanilla/honey Greek yogurt. I think I would pair it with an alfredo dish or buttery grilled shrimp, while the Lindeman’s would go well with a spicy grilled chicken or a spinach salad.

So what does all this mean? I think it means I need to do more research! I thought I had chardonnay all figured out, but clearly I’ve hardly scratched the surface. By the way, this is a great summary of the difference in chardonnays produced in different regions. It tells me that both Central Coast California chardonnays and Aussie chardonnays are generally softer and smoother, while the  Central Coast tends to produce chardonnays with a more bracing acidity. So I don’t quite know what to make of my dual tasting tonight. Both wines are smooth, so perhaps the butter in the Cupcake is because of its aging (in oak?).

I obviously MUST do more research. Anyone want to join me?

My social footnote: Follow @lindemanswines and @cupcakevineyard, and perhaps we’ll all learn a little more about this universal white grape.  

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