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Olivier Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Range: 92-94 Points
A classic source of both world-class Chardonnay and Pinot noir, the Côte de Beaune makes up the southern half of the Côte d’Or. Its principal wine-producing villages are Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton, Beaune, Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet.
The area is named for its own important town of Beaune, which is essentially the center of the Burgundy wine business. Hospices de Beaune, the annual wine auction, is based here as well.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based 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. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.