Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Great Decanting Experiment – Wine #5

The next wine is the 20th vintage of a wine that Talbott Vineyards call a benchmark for California Chardonnay. From vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, the 33 year old vines yielded two and a half tons an acre at crush. Grapes were lightly pressed into French oak barrels (30% new, the balance being seasoned and neutral), barrel-fermented, and then barrel-aged 14 months sur lees, stirred twice a month, and bottle-aged 12 months prior to release in June of 2006.

This 2003 wine was described by Michael Apstein of Wine Review Online (August 2006) as “Now, with a 20-year track record, most everyone will agree that Talbott’s Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay is surely one of California’s best examples of that varietal…it’s a glorious wine.” 95 points.

Wine #5 2003 Talbott Chardonnay, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Monterey County, USA ($14.99USD, 375ml), 14.7% alcohol.
One bottle was splash decanted and the other left unopen. After 2 hours and a half hours the second bottle was opened and the two wines poured randomly into three marked opaque glasses while I was out of the room.

Glass A: Richly flavored with notes of nectarine, toasted oak and minerality (petrichor). Underneath is a honeyed, almost marmalade aroma. A mouthfilling wine, with a soft and supple entry and fatness across the palate and an added flavor of apricot. Excellent length with persistence of flavors.

Glass B: Aromas as for glass A, with perhaps more pronounced nectarine. On the palate there is a little more minerality and crisp acidity than glass A.

Glass C: Aromas as for glasses A and B, with perhaps more pronounced nectarine. Very similar on the palate to the other glasses with a touch more crisp acidity.

My opinion: B and C are from the bottle and A is decanted
Reality: B is decanted and A and C are from the bottle.

Conclusion: Again I was pulling at straws in trying to detect any differences in the wine in the three glasses. Very much an exercise in futility that is obvious from my attempt to use crisp acidity as a differential feature of the wine. With barrel-fermentation, and barrel-aging on its lees in 70% seasoned and neutral oak, it has almost certainly undergone malo-lactic fermentation.

Score: Wines tested 5, Decanters 0, Non-decanters 1.

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