Daily Archives: September 3, 2012

2011 Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Chardonnay

Quite the surprise!

We threw a party last weekend and our usually pitch line is bring your own booze. Most of the booze that arrives at our house this way is Bud Light, Heineken Light (yuks) and other sorts of beers. Another significant share is hard liquors like Candian Club and stuff…it’s a grad student party, so hey.

Occasionally, though, someone brings a bottle of wine, and I do jump right onto those when they come. I want to taste and experience what others drink and bring. This bottle was brought by our friends who also attended the Michigan vs. Mosel Riesling Tasting. They were the ones that first introduced me to Chateau Grand Traverse wines earlier this year. In short, I trust them.

But when I looked at the label and saw that it was a chardonnay, I cringed. I am not a very big fan of this ubiquitous grape. All too often, especially in this hemisphere, you get a buttery, over-oaked heavy weight that has nothing in common with its lighter, fresher, crisper cousins from Burgundy. But even those just never feel overly interesting to me. The grape is solid, and so are the wines, but they lack interest for me. And then a late harvest? I wasn’t so sure. But I trust my friends, so I was willing to give it a try.

And, boy, what a surprise. The wine had 10.5% ABV and 4.2 BRIX of residual sugar, which, if I am not mistaken, should translate to about 40 grams of residual sugar/liter (please, my American friends and experts, correct me if that is wrong…I am still struggling big time with this BRIX thing!). Upon pouring, a light golden, very inviting colored wine presented itself. On the nose, I got tropical fruits (in a chardonnay, seriously!!), very fruity, and it did remind me of a riesling nose. Nothing of the usual chardonnay aromas at all. On the tongue, it was nicely fruity as well, with a good spätlese texture, friendly sweetness and enough acidity to go around. It was such a surprise. I cannot recall ever trying a chardonnay that was that yummy. There are winemakers in Germany making chardonnay, sometimes as spätlese, but they tend to make dry wines out of it. This wine presented a side of chardonnay that I was not aware of, and I am really happy I got to meet chardonnay this way. I will try to pick up another bottle sometime soon to re-taste it and see whether my tastebuds were already tainted from the Bud Lights and PBRs I had had, but if this holds up, that would have been THE surprise of my August tastings…

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