Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chardonnay Wine Tasting

Red wine or white wine, which do you prefer?  I prefer white.  Now, mind you, I am not a wine connoisseur.  Not by a long shot.  If you ask me my preference in wines I will  choose either Pino Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.  I like the freshness of the taste and the citrus flavors.

Many people prefer Chardonnay when selecting a white wine.  I've noticed that Chardonnay is most often chosen by my female friends, family and colleagues at dinners and social gatherings.  Did you know that Chardonnay is the most popular of the grape varietals in America?  So, I thought a wine tasting with Chardonnay wines would be a great way to expand my wine horizons. I wanted to compare and contrast the flavors and characteristics of different Chardonnays.

We spent last weekend in Vermont with our friends Ron and Sharon.  They agreed a Chardonnay wine tasting sounded like a fun idea, so we made it a plan for Friday evening as a way to kick off the weekend.

The Wines and The Fact Sheet

The Chardonnays We Sampled
We brought three bottles of Chardonnay with us to Vermont:
  • Starmont Chardonnay, 2008
  • Francis Coppola Chardonnay, 2008
  • Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay, 2009

Each of these wines is very affordably priced and available widely.  You should be able to purchase them for between $10 and $15 at your local wine shop. 

Before the wine tasting I did some online research to see what I could learn about each of the wines.  These winemaker comments were found at

Here's what the winemakers said about each of their wines:
Starmont Chardonnay, 2008, winemaker's notes:
"The light oak treatment gives a round mouth feel and improved complexity, while highlighting the fruit driven focus of the wine.  Aromas of Graventstein Apple, Bosc Pear, mandarin orange, peach, apple tart with roasted hazelnut, vanilla bean and spice (nutmeg and clove). The wine has a soft entry leading to a round fleshy mid-palate and is filled with layers of fruit and spice. Toasty notes are accentuated on the long finish."
Francis Coppola Chardonnay, 2008, winemaker's notes:
"Buttercup yellow in color. Cantaloupe, pear and cinnamon aromas. Apple, passion fruit and crème brulée on the palate. This Chardonnay displays rich, flamboyant flavors and a soft, creamy finish."

Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay, 2009, winemaker's notes:   
"Classic Clarksburg personality shines through in the green apple and pear notes, while a bit more tropical pineapple breezes by.  Spicy American oak notes of butterscotch and vanilla are the perfect balance to the freshness and acidity of the multifaceted wine. Enjoy this wine with just about everything."

Once we arrived in Ludlow, Vermont we decided to stop at local wine and cheese shop, The Wine & Cheese Depot, to add one more wine and a bit of cheese to our wine tasting.

The Wine & Cheese Depot in Ludlow, VT
 As a result, our wine tasting had four Chardonnays.  The fourth was Four Wines Naked Chardonnay recommended by The Wine & Cheese Depot for $12.  Check them out if you are visiting Ludlow, Vermont.  They'll be happy to recommend a perfect wine and cheese pairing.

Our Wine Tasting

All of these Chardonnays were non-oaky.  Below are some of the comments we made about each:
Starmont Chardonnay
Smooth, tastes good with both the crab and sausage stuffed mushroom appetizer (recipes below)
Easy to drink, smooth, a great starter
Coppola Chardonnay
Fruity, more body than the Starmont
Very mild, no oak, easy to drink
Deeper, drier than Starmont.  Robust flavor.
Bogle Chardonnay
Sweet, fruity
Not dry enough, too sweet
Dessert sweet
Four Wines Naked Chardonnay
Tastes like a medley of different wines, very interesting
Has a bit of acidity
Hard to describe

The Favorite Chardonnay
Each of the wines was enjoyable.  The Coppola Chardonnay was a favorite of two tasters, the Starmont Chardonnay was chosen as a favorite by one and the Bogle Chardonnay was my favorite.  All were easy to drink and were bright and refreshing with our appetizers.

Feel free to use the Chardonnay Fact Sheet I used for the wine tasting.  We used the fact sheet to understand the flavors we were looking for as we tasted each of the wines and to record our individual comments about the wines.

The Appetizers
The wines in this tasting were paired with two appetizers:  Hot Crab Dip and Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms.  The Hot Crab Dip is easy peasy to make.  You can assemble it in the same dish you choose to bake it in.  Here's how it's done:
Hot Crab Dip
Hot Crab Dip Ingredients
  • 1 pound of crab meat
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3 green onions, minced tops included
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix all of the ingredients together in a casserole dish, stirring to combine completely.  Bake for 40 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Serve with crackers or toast rounds.
Crab Dip ready for the Oven
Click the link for the Hot Crab Dip printable recipe

The Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms take a little more effort, but are tasty as well.  If you love stuffed mushrooms with a kick, try these.

Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms Ingredients

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound hot sausage
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (I used fat free), softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and dry the mushrooms.  Remove the stems from the caps.  Chop the stems fine and set aside.   Cook the sausage over medium heat until well browned and crumbled.  Remove from the pan to cool.
In the same pan, cook the onions, stems and garlic until soft, approximately 2 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer until the liquid evaporates. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and egg yolk.  Add the Parmesan cheese, cooled sausage and cooled onion and stems mixture.  Mix together well and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange the mushroom caps in your baking dish.  Spoon a generous portion of the stuffing mixture into the cavity of each mushroom cap.  Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes and enjoy.

Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms Ready for the Oven
Click the link for the Spicy Sausage Stuffed Mushroom printable recipe.

Here are some other posts about appetizers you may like as well:
Dips for Any Occasion
Appetizers Anyone?

Want to read more about wine tastings?
Five Tips to Make The Most of A Wine Tasting
A Fun Way to Try Red Zinfandel Wine


1 comment:

  1. Love the wine tasting and appetizer recipes. Keep them coming.


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