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Olivier Leflaive Charmois Saint Aubin Premier Cru 2013
Ideal with seafood, fish cooked in sauce, blanquette of veal and cheese such as Langres or Saint Nectaire.
A steep, upcountry basin (referred to as a combe in French) in the southern end of the Côte de Beaune, St. Aubin is a direct westerly neighbor to Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. Recent years have seen a boom in white wine production so that now Chardonnay accounts for more than three quarters of area under vine here. Two thirds of St. Aubin is classified Premier Cru (30 total vineyards); most notable include Les Charmois, La Chatenière, En Remilly and Les Murgers Dents de Chie. The Premiers Crus of St. Aubin, wrapping like a ribbon upon the southeast and southwest facing slopes, produce fresh and elegant whites. When young, these tout a refreshing grip and convey qualities of white flowers, citrus, pear, green almond and wet stone. Given some age, a graceful evolution occurs so that older St. Aubin whites express richer aromas of beeswax, honey, marzipan and spice.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.