Wine Review: 2010 Painted Rock Chardonnay

3 02 2012

Although a newer vintage than the 2009, it's still like going back in time.

The coolest thing about this blog having been around awhile, other than the fact that I’ve miraculously managed to regularly publish an Internet wine blog for the better part of a year, is that I’m starting to come across second vintages in the bottles I open:  current vintage wines whose predecessors I have previously featured on PnP.  Case in point:  the 2010 Painted Rock Chardonnay from the Okanagan Valley, which is probably already facing an uphill battle in this review due to monstrously high expectations because I totally loved the 2009 PR Chard back in September.  I think Painted Rock is a producer on the forefront of the Canadian wine scene, one that is starting to show that we don’t have to settle for local wines that only measure up as against their neighbours, but that can also stand tall on the international market.  While PR focuses primarily on red wine, their lone white is a testament to the wonders of cool-climate Chardonnay, and I thought enough about the ’09 vintage that I absolutely loaded up on the 2010 as soon as it became available.

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Wine Review: 2009 Painted Rock Chardonnay

21 09 2011

In wine, as in life, discrimination is wrong.

I’m experiencing a sort of Chardonnay renaissance right now. Like so many people, I had soured on the grape after a couple of initial bad experiences with cheap, gloppy, steroidally-oaked monsters that led me to believe that Chard was overrated and undeservedly well-known, the sellout of the white grape family. This, it turns out, is a tragically limited worldview that illustrates the dangers of drawing conclusions based on a small sample size; the problem wasn’t actually that I didn’t like Chardonnay (which is responsible for some of the best, most acclaimed and most expensive white wines in the world), but that I didn’t like bad Chardonnay (which, thankfully, isn’t a problem at all). I have started to distance myself from this rough start with the grape, and despite my previously-ingrained bias, I’ve been noticing that almost every single Chardonnay I’ve had recently has been, well, good. The oak-and-alcohol-bomb style previously so rampant throughout the New World is starting to recede, and the current movement in the world of Chardonnay seems to be more geared toward balance and allowing the flavours of the actual grape (rather than only the barrel it was aged in) to express themselves. This is a positive development for the Canadian wine industry, as this grape probably does its best work in cooler climates, retaining the structure that can be so easily lost in warmer zones yet still ripening even in shorter, colder growing seasons. I was therefore quite surprised during my recent trip to the Okanagan when one winery owner told me that they would be reining back their production of Chardonnay in favour of other white varietals — they made a tremendous, restrained yet flavourful Chard, but they were turning away from it because they thought that Pinot Gris could outsell it 5 to 1. My newfound appreciation for the world’s best-known white grape must have hit me then, because my first immediate thought was: “Has everybody gone nuts?”

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