February’s 29 days of Chardonnay
a collaborative project
Conscious about Chardonnay
Authored by Jeff Weissler
I can speak to 2 obsessions with Chardonnay.
The first one happened many years ago with a bottle of Grgich Hills & Chalone Chardonnays side by side. My craziest NY wine buddy turned me on to wines buried deep in his stash. I remember never knowing where the heck he got all that wine! All I knew was we had met at the original International Wine Center, and I gravitated to him based on his being the only other guy in the room without a tie.
The Grgich & Chalone each had about 10 years of bottle age on them. If memory serves right, they were both ‘78‘s. Intoxicating from first sniff… I can remember them distincly to this day. What I remember most, was the spice/fruit combo and the diversity of flavors on both aroma & palate. I’ll confess I’ve rarely had California Chardonnay that stuck with me like that pair of dueling dynamos.
As Californian Chardonnay became more & more known as an adventure of oak infused into a liquid, my attention shifted to the Burgundy region of France.
Introductions to Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault & others included producers like Domaine Leflaive, Comte Lafon, Domaine Ramonet, Marc Morey and hearing about a producer called Coche-Dury.
I was the wine buyer at a store called Suburban Wine & Spirits in Yorktown Hts, NY. By the luck of running a big and healthy wine shop, I got invited to go to Vin Italy (Italy’s annual viticultural showcase to the world), and managed to seduce 3 other wine-knows into a pre-trip to Southern France. Our goal… to drink the unfindable wines. Coche-Dury was on my mind and a goal was about to be achieved. It happened at Baumeniere in Les Baux. Dinner included a series of amazing wines, but for me the magic happened with a 10 year old Coche-Dury Meursault Caillerets. This is not the end of the story.
Yes that wine was great. Beyond even. A journey into pure delight and engagement for the senses. But my fire was just getting stoked.
Back in NY, I now had to find that wine; or any Coche-Dury wine. The success of our wine shop gave us buying power, and it was time to wield that sword. Bottom line was if I spent $100,000 a year with the wholesaler that carried Coche-Dury, I might be able to ram scam my way into 3 bottles of Coche-Dury. It wasn’t for the Meursault though, but for the ‘not so simple’ simple Bourgogne Blanc, which would definitely satisfy my tastebuds. Mission accomplished, and I grabbed a bottle for myself out of the massive stash. Yes it was spectacular.
Now back to my craziest NY wine buddy. I had left Suburban. I was moving out west, and on my way to Oregon. My wine bud was a searcher & finder of the highest order. He found some ’04 Coche-Dury Bourgogne Blanc, and we split a bit for a completely ridiculous $75 per bottle, but this isn’t about common sense. I drank 3 of them and held that last bottle for that time when…
When I wanted to turn the new & still love of my life onto this obsession with wine, that when the right button got pushed, everything just becomes kind of perfect. I brought that last bottle to share with my love, and she discovered & tasted my other love. Sometimes she’s jealous, but it was all about sharing it with her. And so there is the story of my obsession with Chardonnay.
By the way, I have found a couple of California Chardonnay’s I still get weak in the knees when I find. My favorite is Littorai. Oregon offer’s a few personal favorite gems including Brick House & Evening Land. The trick for me is just waiting enough years for them to show their intoxicating ways which can be very difficult for an over-caffeinated, balding, Jewish, NYer.
Jeff Weissler has about 30 years in the fine wine biz & his newest obsession is called ConsciousWine.com; a four year project now taking real form in Cyberville. The schtick is sustainability from top to bottom. Bottom line scoop: our choices do make a real difference, so why not support organic & sustainable farming as the base, leading to vital products that express place, and taste great! I’ve built of list of US wineries following these principles. The website has oodles of video, lots of education and a cyber shop to buy wine. Present home is Newberg (undy), OR.