Monday, April 19, 2010

Fess Parker "Ashley's Vineyard" Chardonnay 2007 & 2008

Fess Parker sent these two Chardonnay's along with the suggestion to taste them side by side and compare the differences in the two vintages. Although Sarah and I are normally in the "ABC" crowd as far as white wine goes (we have been known to drink some Pouilly-Fuisse or Chablis from time to time), and typically are more into Gruner, Riesling and weird Italian stuff, we thought this sounded like a splendid thing to drink with the chicken-barley-portabella soup I made. (What's really cool about the soup--that I jacked from a Laurent Tourondel cookbook--is that you make the chicken stock out of the chicken instead of assembling everything separately. Of course, it's delicious.)

Both of these bottles are around $30 retail (although looking online, you can get the 07 for 24$), which is part of the reason we don't drink tons of Chardonnay based wines. Simply put, you can get really good whites for quite a bit less. Regardless, we enjoyed both of these wines. "Ashley's Vineyard" is named after Fess Parker's daughter and is located in the Santa Rita Hills AVA. Both wines are tastefully done, with lots of varietal character. The 07 is a bit leaner in terms of style, with lots of pear and apple on the nose, a little toast, some vanilla/custard character, and lots of lemon once it's in your mouth. There's also more acidity, slight creaminess, and a nice finish. The 08, in contrast, is definitely riper, with more oak on the nose (I suppose this could have something to do with just going in the bottle), figs, and some spice notes that come out. In the mouth, this wine is more orange than lemon, and is much more along the "vanilla, creamy, butter-thing." There's also less acidity, and a lingering honey-vanilla finish.

The 07 was an awesome pairing with the soup, bringing the parsley flavors to the forefront. The 08 didn't work as well. For what it's worth, I believe that it scored higher in the Wine Enthusiast (95 as opposed to a 93 that the 07 received). It makes sense that Sarah and I would prefer the lower-pointed wine, since we typically dig acidity and balance more than other characteristics. Both wines are definitely more California than Chablis--fruit, and not much austerity. I was impressed that neither of these wines went to popcorn territory--although I hear that that isn't the style anymore. We liked the 07 much more than the Pinot and Syrah that we received, and would consider purchasing it again. The 07 is an A-/A, and the 08 is a B/B+. And somehow, I'm not quite sure how, we drank both bottles. That's a lot of wine for us. I guess that the moral of the story is that we shouldn't open two bottles and have two glasses in front of each of us, because that makes it really easy to drink two bottles of wine...

3 comments:

CabFrancoPhile said...

These sound spot on: racy and rich. But of course the catch with Chardonnay is it's not all that interesting unless it's 'made' in the cellar, and grapes with the structure to support being 'made' don't come cheap. So between the making and the fruit, it's rarely a great value even though the SRH versions can be quite good.

Jeff said...

Yeah definitely the 07 was pretty good. Not as much a fan of the 08. Interesting point about being made, as I generally prefer the more under-stated styles of Chardonnay--meaning Pouilly Fuisse or Chablis. Of course, those come off as fairly austere a lot of the time. They're a lot different from something like Meursault that has a lot more oak--or California. Anyways, I liked both of these wines...every once in a while, you really do want something that is racy and rich in a white (as long as it doesn't taste like buttered popcorn).

CabFrancoPhile said...

I've definitely liked the few Chablis I've encountered as they are under-stated. But too often I end up finding Chards have no aromas other than barrel smells. The most offensively smokey Chard I've tasted was actually a white Burg, though it was very fresh and quite tasty if you could get past the obnoxious toast aromas. Anyway, Chard has good structure and acidity, but so often it doesn't excite me, especially from an aromatic standpoint. And when it does have aromas, often they are overdone.