A while ago (see November 13th 2014 post) I tasted some old White Burgundies with mixed results. With the terrors of oxidation and losing verve overtaking the complexity of age on most occasions.

So a little while ago I tried another squirreled-away treasure, bought maybe 17 years ago from my own wine guru, Ralph Northwood.
Calcaire Vineyard Chardonnay 1994 (Clos du Bois – Alexander Valley, California)
Nowadays Clos du Bois avowedly make French style wines – and in the UK their most seen Chardonnay is now from the North Coast and about one third oak aged. Back in the 1990s one could source this single vineyard wine from terroirs more associated with Zinfandel – Geyserville and Alexander Valley. This cru is from 25 year old vines “stressed” by growth on gravel soil aimed to produce “concentrated flavours”. The wines is then fermented and aged sur lie for 8 months in small French oak barrels, undergoing a malolactic fermentation. Now this isn’t that promising – high concentration, sur lie oak aging, vanilla and butter notes. Very mid 90s California… but…
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… Leaving the wine 20 years proved to be a master-stroke. The golden colour was still very bright, and initial pungency gave way to a poached pear and melon notes and wood elements that leaned to the herby rather than vanilla. The palate was grainy and creamy at the same time, melon fruit and a sappy texture which had evolved beyond butter to a herby, chalky richness, undercut by still vivid citrus. Great length and complexity – lovely. This worked so well with a thyme Chicken and roast Courgette dish that it could have designed for it (my standby – in case the Clos du Bois had gone over – was a white Vacqueras).

If you want to try a (sort of) modern equivalent from this producer then Majestic have:
Clos du Bois North Coast Chardonnay 2013 for £13.
It won’t be like this though… at least not for 19 years!

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