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The Judgement of Northleach Part 2 - Chardonnay. 13th April 2018.

Following on from the initial Judgement of Northleach in November last year, we finlly got around to organising the second part; French Chardonnay versus the same grape from California. 

After the success of the first Judgement of Northleach, it was always on our to do list to run a white version and I'm thankful to say it was another resounding success. There were many happy faces and more than a few sore heads the next day. 

We do suffer for our art sometimes dear reader.

As before we had a few very simple rules. The aim was to show 8 wines this time, 4 each from Burgundy and California. Again we tried to be comparable on price and instead of them all being roughly the same price we tried to match the prices in pairs spread the range of prices overall. So the cheapest wines were around £30 each, we had one French and Californian each in that range. one from each of the regions was around the £40 mark, one each from around the £50 mark and then a slightly pricier one each nearing £60. The wines were served in a random order, chilled in their bottles but in dark sleeves to hide the identity. 

Every taster was given a score sheet to write their notes and offer each wine an eventual score out of 20. At the end the scores would be added up to see decide the winner.

The tasting was a fascinating, tasty delve into one of my favourite styles of wine; a well made, well oaked chardonnay. During the initial tastings, it was clear that the wines were all served slightly too cold, but luckily as the evening went on the wines did start to warm slightly and many of them really opened up. It was certainly worth revisiting each wine to re-taste it and asses it properly. 

My initial hopes were high for a few of the wines, some i was expecting to show ok and some i had no idea about, but wanted to include them. I am happy to admit though that my ideas beforehand were totally changed as we tasted and unveiled each wine.

So to the results, what would triumph? California versus Burgundy. Young upstart versus the old guard. Some tasters were suprised by the results, some less so, all thohgh were impressed with the all round quality. 

So without further ado, the results and average scores out of 20.

1. Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay 2015. USA. 17.25

2. Ridge Easte Chardonnay 2015. USA. 16.88

3. Vallet Fréres Meursault 2015. France. 16.13

4. Francois Carillon Puligny Montrachet 2015. France. 15.25

5. Vallet Fréres Pernand-Vergelesses 2015. France. 14.5

6. Domaine Henri Darnat Puligny Montrachet 2013. France. 13.38

7. Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2014. USA. 13

8. Heitz Cellars Chardonnay 2015. USA. 11.63


So there we have it folks, once again California triumphed. the lovely Paul Hobbs Russina River Chardonnay was a worthy winner, with the amazing ridge Estate Chardonnay a close secon. it must be pointed out the the following 4 were the Burgundian examples, with the trail end of the scores being awared to the Californians again. 

My personal tasting scores vaguely reflected the bigger picture of the group. For me the standout wines and top four were the Ridge Estate Chardonnay, followed closely by the Francois Carillon Puligny Montrachet, the Paul Hobbs and the Vallet Freres Meursault. 

I think the surprise wines for me were the Heitz (a regular favourite of mine) and the Chateau Montelena (Californain royalty and the original Judgement of Paris winner). Both were fairly unanimously scored low points. From my tasting notes i can see that both seemed lgihter bodied than the rest. I think perhaps the oak inlfuence is less prominent on each, setting them aside from the rest in peoples minds. 

Overall the tasting was a resounding success, how could it not be with such a cracking line up of wines. Thanks to everyone who attended and tasted and particular thanks to Helen and Adrian for hosting and Mark for such fantastic food. 

What theme next for the Northleach Judges?