November 29th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

Gourmet Food and Wine Show: Three Chardonnays

On Thursday night, thanks to aerinah, I attended a potluck American Thanksgiving. Several of the attendees, including colins_journal, particularly enjoyed the Yellow Tail merlot, so it seemed appropriate to pick up a bottle for Friday night's Thanksgiving. C. was going to do the heavy lifting en route to Friday's dinner, as I was going to be at the Food and Wine show.

As it happened, though, the Food and Wine show was a panoply of alcohol, with a Yellow Tail booth right by the entrance. After my orientation tour, I picked up my sampling glass and headed for their booth. Yellow Tail is an Australian winery, and their chardonnay is currently the top selling wine in North America. That's quite a feat, given the competition. Their merlot's been on the shelves for two weeks, and they also have a shiraz. Despite being more interested in the food than the drink, I was curious about their chardonnay after the previous night's enthusiasm for their merlot, so I spent my first few sampling tickets on an ounce of it. It might be N.A.'s top-selling wine, but I wasn't too keen on the oaky aftertaste which lingered in my mouth.

After a few tasty little food dishes which I'll tell you about some other time, I took a break for a sommelier-led tasting class, pretentiously entitled "Chardonnay's Charisma". I don't drink reds, so it was a safe way of making sure I stuck with an all-white wine drinking agenda. For the same price as my one ounce sample, the class cost got me three one ounce samples, clearly the better value.

Thanks to the large size of the class, I don't actually know what all the wines I tasted were, not by winery. I know them by style, flavor, and age which is much more helpful to me in learning what I do and don't like in a wine. Thanks to this session, I know that five years is too old for an unoaked chardonnay for my tastes, but that in general I prefer unoaked to oaked wines, and that the chardonnay grape is one of the few that benefits from oak cask aging. In one way, though, the sampling proved redundant: the last wine was a Yellow Tail chardonnay.

(In my next post on this subject, I'll finally get around to writing up the highlight of the whole event and what I spent most of my time on: all the delectable mini-dishes cooked to order by local restaurants advertising their wares.)