When encountering an unwooded Chardonnay, I can’t help referencing it against the wines of Chablis, the appellation comprising the most northern vineyards of Burgundy and typically making wonderfully fresh, austere wines. Locally, unwooded Chardonnay is a burgeoning category. Do these wines amount to more than dry white for punters who don’t like the extreme pyrazine character which so many examples of Sauvignon Blanc show?
Yesterday a tasting of current releases. I tasted blind with scoring done according to the 20-point system and here’s how the wines ranked:
1.= Eikendal Janina Unwooded: 16/20
Wine of Origin Stellenbosch. Abv 12.5%
Lime and some leesy character. Juicy and fresh. Plenty of primary fruit but hint of secondary character adds interest. Good balance.
1. = Mont Rochelle Unwooded 2010: 16/20
Wine of Origin Walker Bay. Abv 13%.
Leesy and a touch of gunflint on the nose. The palate shows lem-lime flavour as well as some intriguing funkiness. Good concentration and bright acidity.
3. Limestone Hill 2011: 15.5/20
Wine of Origin Robertson. Abv 13.5%. Hint of citrus on otherwise nose. Not hugely complex on the palate but very appealing on account of great fruit expression and zippy acidity. Clean and fresh.
4.=De Wetshof Bon Vallon 2011: 15/20
Wine of origin Robertson. Abv 13.5%
Slight reduced note on the nose. Subtle citrus flavour, bright acidity, pithy finish. Leaner style.
4.= Groote Post Unwooded 2011: 15/20
Wine of Origin Darling. Abv 14%.
Ripe citrus and some pineapple on the nose. The palate is full bodied with relatively soft acidity. Appealing.
4.= Warwick The First Lady 2011: 15/20
Wine of Origin Western Cape. Abv 14%.
Lime and citrus blossom on the nose. Appears juicy and fresh on entry but slight green note on finish.
4.= Jordan Woolworths Limited Release Sur Lie 2011: 15/20
Wine of Origin Stellenbosch. Abv 13.5%.
Shy nose. Pronounced lemon flavour. Concentrated fruit, bright acidity. Clean and fresh.
4.= Constantia Uitsig Unwooded 2011: 15/20
Wine of Origin Constantia. Abv 13.5%.
Shy nose. Pronounced lemon flavour. Good concentration, acidity firm to the point of hard. Demanding.
9.= Glen Carlou Unwooded 2011: 14.5/20
Wine of Origin Paarl. Abv 13%.
Yeasty note on otherwise shy nose. The palate is medium bodied with a creamy textures and relatively soft acidity. Lacks some concentration.
9.= Springfield Wild Yeast 2009: 14.5/20
Wine of Origin Robertson. Abv 14%.
Pale yellow. Notes of ripe citrus and peach on the nose. The palate has good richness and depth. Appears sweet on entry and the acidity is very gentle. A-typical in the context of the line-up but satisfying to drink on its own.
11. Sterhuis Unwooded 2011: 14/20
Wine of Origin Bottelary, Stellenbosch. Abv 13.5%.
Appears slightly oxidised on the nose and palate. Some ripe citrus and yellow fruit but generally lacks purity and freshness.