By Mari Kane
When I got the invite to a Chardonnay Kitchen Party at the Miele appliances showroom in downtown Vancouver, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’d heard of tastings there, but having walked by the store many times, I couldn’t work out how they’d fit so many bodies into it.
The Chardonnay Kitchen Party was part of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, and organized by consultant Dana Reinhardt and wine writer Tim Pawsey.
With its labyrinth of demonstration kitchens, Meile turned out to be a fantastic venue for wine and food grazing. One kitchen after another had chefs whipping up their specialties, fresh and hot, from gorgeous appliances. Stainless doors, professional grills, lots of marble counter space to set your glass on; this was a place I could stay and dream all day.
But I didn’t have all day, and had to get a move on to the wines.
The unfortunate part of the layout was how the food was mostly on the kitchen labyrinth side while most of the wine was poured in the kitchen classroom. That made it hard to play with food pairing.
However, the Tasmanian winery, Josef Chromy, was conveniently set up near the Edible Canada kitchen, whose yummy wild barley arancini with Okanagan apple butter tasted perfect with the Chromy Non Vintage Sparkling.
I paired the Oyster Bay Cuvee Brut with Lolita’s rock crab cakes with lemon and arbol aioli, and it was fantastic as well as surprisingly filling.
On to the kitchen classroom and more Chardonnay.
The Macrostie 2011 Sonoma Coast was a breath of spring with its floral nose and ripe fruit flavors. Very creamy in the mouth; I could drink it all day, it’s that easy.
Macrostie’s 2011 Wildcat Mountain was a different beast entirely, with that rich nut and vanilla you get from heavily oaked chards. This one gets the full treatment – French oak barrels, stirred lees, full malolactic conversion – and it over delivers on honey-baked tropical fruit, rich caramel and spice.
I loved the Paneta 2010 Chardonnay from Sicily. It’s so bright and clean with beautiful apple and peach in the foreground, and vanilla and figs in the background. Superbly balanced. BCLS Spec $44.
The Planeta Bianco 2001 is a blend of Grecanico with Chardonnay fermented in stainless steel and is your classic summer sipper. Lots of green pineapple and citrus fruit and snappy acidity makes it fresh and mouthwatering. At BCLS, it’s only $16.
One of my favorite California Chardonnays was there: the Edna Valley 2010 Paragon from San Luis Obispo. It has overt tropical fruit flavors of pineapple, banana and green apple softened by little enough oak to keep the acidity real. It’s $20 at the BCLS.
Also from California’s Central Coast were Bridlewood Chardonnay’s from Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties.
The Bridlewood 2010 Monterey had super bright acidity and exotic pineapple and mandarin notes layered with nuts, spice and honey. Quite intriguing, this wine. At BCLS for $20.
Bridlewood’s 2011 Santa Barbara county was fermented in a concrete egg, I was told, which would account for its fine minerality and crisp acidity. Lovely citrus notes of lemon and pineapple shone through. It tasted more expensive than $30, charged at BCLS.
All these wines were great and fine, but when I tried Xanadu I thought I’d loose my mind.
The Xanadu 2010 Margaret River Chardonnay blew me away with its incredible balance, taut acidity and scrumptious white nectarine and lemon notes. This is my kind of chard. It tasted so clean, fresh and delicious, I wanted another pour right away. Cue the Olivia Newton-John soundtrack, I was transported.
Then, Kye from Select Wines offered me a taste of the Xanadu 2011 Reserve Margaret River and my world was rocked. This is possibly the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. Its quality is amazing, its structure inspiring. It has complexity for days with a seamless balance of pure, intense citrus and stone fruit, and a gentle hint of nuttiness. The oak did what it should – not interfere. The finish would not quit even after I walked away, dazed.
The mystery of Xanadu is why it’s not widely available in BC. If it were, the 2010 would be $30 and the Reserve $90.
All too soon, I had to zoom to my next gig and leave the rollicking kitchen party behind. But first, I went back for another pour of Xanadu to float on my tongue while walking down the street. Pure bliss.
Please check out my post, I’d Rather Go Blind Tasting, about another Wine Festival event I attended earlier that week.