Planeta Chardonnay 2008

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Chardonnay has been criticized so thoroughly that it is almost shocking anyone drinks it anymore. Luckily, the caricature wines are in decline and real Chardonnay is making a come back. There is still a debate about Chard unadulterated vs. Chard done up all pretty, but I personally think there is a place for both the classic terroir driven Chards of Chablis and Champagne and the elegant, sophisticated and ultimately hedonistically pleasureable chards of the Cote D’or and elsewhere.

Molten Sunshine

California sunshine was the first ingredient in a bevy of bad decisions that ultimately made California Chardonnay the harbinger of the soupy glop that ruined the grape’s reputation. Chardonnay fruit can get so over the top opulent with a lot of sun that it takes a deft hand to reign it in. Extensive lees stirring and maturation in new oak barrels coupled with malo-lactic fermentation was the death knoll for the grape in California. Luckily, these techniques can be used with far more restraint and in better climatic conditions.

So enough of California as it is, rather, the sunny clime of Sicily that is home to this Chardonnay, from the Island’s most famous producer, Planeta. Planeta made its reputation with this wine and it is easy to understand why. While opulent and intensely fruity, there is yet acidity and balance here that most in California can’t seem to produce. This is a far cry from even Cote d’or, however, and may be too intense for some (though I’d call this refreshing despite its hedonism). I’d also say there isn’t much terroir here, though I do think the soils climatic conditions are what made this wine successful even if they don’t shine through in an obvious way.

There is a place for hedonistic fruit at times, and when done well these wines do play a part in the wine pantheon. Sometimes you just want to eat seafood cooked in butter and lemon, and this wine would be a great match with that or anything well endowed with dairy fat. It has the acidity to keep things interesting and prevent them from getting too rich – but it needs a rich dish to match its intensity. So yes, molten sunshine, done right.

Very Good+
$47 at BCLDB

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