Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Tale of 2 Chardonnays

The boyz were together again Friday night at Crystal Jade Golden Palace Restaurant, Paragon for the always convivial atmosphere and needless to say - great vino.

Currently one of my favorite restaurants, Golden Palace serves refined Teochew and Cantonese cuisine.
The excellant food served in a warm, understated space, and the impeccable service, makes for a wonderful dining experience. Highly recommended.

The two whites poured were both chardonnays, from the same 03 vintage, but produced on 2 vastly different continents by different vignerons. Notes were as follows:

> Chateau de Puligny Montrachet, Mersault 1er Les Perrieres 03 - Not overbearingly ripe citrus fruit profile, with notes of grilled nuts and vanillin that transitioned nicely into a lengthy, polished finish. The winemaker is Etienne de Montille from the famed Domaine Hubert de Montille estate in Volnay. Jason's supermarket currently has this wine on offer. Domaine de Montille wines are represented by Auric Pacific Fine Wines.

> Peter Michael Ma Belle-Fille 03 - This is the second vintage for this bottling, which was named after Sir Peter Michael's daughter in law. Nutmeg, pistachio and orange peel on the nose. On the palate, ripe tropical fruits of pineapple and pomelo, with quite a hefty slab of butter. Would have preferred a lighter hand with the wood and a little more brightness with the acid, but otherwise, very good juice.

My drinking buddies know that I have always loved the white wines produced at Peter Michael Winery. In my opinion, they are one of the top tier producers of Chardonnay in California. I fondly remember drinking great bottles of Cuvee Indigene, Clos du Ciel and Mon Plaisir from the early 90s that were in a word - breathtaking. I loved the creamy textures, intense minerality, slate-like quality, and multidimensional fruit profiles. They always seemed to have just the right amount of french oak and acid lift, producing wines that were harmonious and finely balanced.

Recent vintages have displayed a somewhat worrisome stylistic change from the days when Helen Turley and Mark Aubert were the winemakers. Subtlety has given way to a rather more in your face, overipe, blowsy style, with an oak treatment that is a little heavy handed for my personal taste.


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