While white wine drinkers have certainly broadened their horizons over the years, they would be remiss to turn their collective backs on the one that started it all: Chardonnay. Though it has been used in questionable ways, when grown on the golden slopes of Burgundy, Chardonnay can still produce some of the most majestic wines in the world.
The vineyards of Burgundy are divided into countless tiny parcels, which the Benedictine and Cistercian monks began ranking in the middle ages. Chardonnay produced from vineyards designated as Premier Cru and Grand Cru are some of the finest and deservedly most expensive wines in the world. But the hard-wired and somewhat outdated borders of these prime plots can be cruel, and some terrific vineyards fall on the wrong side of the road, quite literally.
Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet owns just such a plot, called Clos du Chateau, located within the walls of the garden in front of the winery, but across the road from the demarcation line. Unable to label the wine “Puligny-Montrachet,” Burgundy's most renowned village for white wine, the wine must instead suffer the indignation of the most humble of titles, generic “Bourgogne,” and sell for about $30.
Don't judge this wine by the label however, because what is inside the 2008 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet “Clos du Chateau” is every bit Puligny-Montrachet, delivering all that a wine three times its price does. Heralded winemaker Etienne de Montille took over operations at the Chateau in 2002 and he has whipped this previously underachieving producer into shape, including conversion to biodynamic practices.
The results of these methods are obvious, infusing the wines with life and energy, unencumbered by the stifling grip of new oak barrels and bursting with all of the generous character we learned to love in this grape. Green apples and white peaches with a mineral verve supporting its' ample body. It's fresh and alive in the mouth and will pair nicely with anything from a ball of fresh Mozzarella to a hunk of grilled pork. Perhaps it's time to go retro cool and again embrace (good) Chardonnay in the same way we have classic cocktails and skinny ties.
Available at Domaine LA, K&L, Wine Country and Woodland Hills Wine Co.; about $30.
David Rosoff is the GM at Osteria Mozza.