The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Spotlight on Chardonnay Grapes

By Monday, June 24, 2013 Permalink 0

The Art of Tasting Wine with James Flewellen: Spotlight on Chardonnay Grapes

by James Flewellen

Just as Pinot Noir is Burgundy’s queen of red grapes, so Chardonnay is Burgundy’s king of whites. Although originating from Burgundy, Chardonnay is so widely grown around the world it is now considered to be an ‘international variety’. 

Chardonnay is often described as a ‘winemaker’s grape’ in that the primary qualities of the grape are overwhelmed by the winemaking procedure, meaning the winemaker has an essentially blank canvas upon which to work. I take exception to this somewhat in that there is certainly something about Chardonnay that makes it ‘Chardonnay’, it’s just that this quality may vary depending on location and climate.

Chardonnay grapes close up, creative commons photo by  Dan Random / Foter.com /
Close-up view of Chardonnay grapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The typical flavour profile of the grape is green apple and lemon if grown in cool places like Chablis in France, moving through to ripe red apple, peach and melon in warmer climes and eventually to tropical pineapple, mango and even banana notes in hot climates such as California and parts of Australia. Wines from hotter places tend to have a fatter, heavier texture, lower acidity and higher alcohol, whereas those from cold climates can be lean, austere and steely.

Chardonnay and oak go together like a hand in glove. Although there are many ways of integrating oak flavours with those of the grape, some winemakers in the past have chosen to overwhelm the natural expression of the grape with an unsubtle whack of oak. This has led to the association in many people’s minds that Chardonnay “tastes like wood.” Judicious use of new French oak adds butter, toast, nutty aromas and flavours to the wine, while new American oak brings a slightly ‘sweeter’ coconut or white chocolate profile. While some very fine wines can be profoundly ‘oaky’, to my mind this should always work with the available fruit flavours rather than overwhelm them. There is a recent movement in new world countries such as Australia and New Zealand to produce leaner, more mineral Chardonnays with very little new oak influence, while this has been practised as the norm in Chablis, in particular, for decades.

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Food News Daily: September 1, 2011

By Thursday, September 1, 2011 Permalink 0

Mainstream Anglo Media and Press

Gordon Ramsay’s Australian Nightmare, The Wall Street Journal

‘The Art of Eating’ from Flemish painters to Ferran Adrià, Phaidon Press

The Art of Picking the Perfect Meal for Beer, The Wall Street Journal

Cargill sees cocoa demand up 1 mln tons by 2020, Market Watch

Food is the ultimate security need, new map shows, The Guardian

How Many Calories Do You Need to Eat Per Day?, The Atlantic

Think outside the box: Top cooks reveal how to perk up your children’s packed lunches, The Independent

Nine Tips for Digging Through Local Farmers Markets, Dallas Observer

Best of the Anglo Food and Travel Blogs and Sites

Praising farm wives: The spirit can exist in anyone, Culinate

A Cardiac Surgeon on the Glory of Saturated Fat, They’re Good for You, The LRC Blog

Plums – Food of the Month, Health Castle

Alternative Press/Sites

Potatoes reduce blood pressure in people with obesity and high blood pressure, Eurek Alert

A Classy Model-Egg Chicken Coop (Coupe) (shaped like a Model A),

How the Soaring Price of Bread Will Shake the World Economy, AlterNet

World

The Famous Anzac Biscuit, Honest Cooking

Red Velvet Crêpes, duhlicious

Melon au citron vert, Ma p’tite cuisine by Audrey

$1 Million Of (Mollydooker) Wine Destroyed In Forklift, Accident, Technorati

Food Photography

Coffee bean owl, Image Shack

The Evolution of Coke, Pete

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Epicurean Adventure: the first of this year’s Great Barrier Feasts

By Tuesday, July 5, 2011 Permalink 0

by Rebecca Varidel, our Australian correspondent

Destination dining has never been more inviting. Luxury resort, qualia on Hamilton Island (in the Whitsunday Islands – off the coast of northern Queensland Australia) recently hosted the first of this year’s three Great Barrier Feasts. Gourmands travelled, from around Australia and internationally, to attend the intimate three-day soiree.

And the weekend delighted, with masterclasses by leading Chef Peter Gilmore of Quay restaurant Sydney (Quay is the only one of the Australian restaurants placed this year in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants), and culminated in a magnificent showpiece dinner. Gilmore flew a team with him from his Sydney restaurant kitchen to replicate a number of his beautiful signature dishes. Gilmore has been instrumental in Australia for changing the way we eat, and like Chef Serge Dansereau before him, raised the bar on the Aussie expectations of fresh produce. A keen home gardener and seed saver, Chef Peter Gilmore, introduces many varieties of heirloom vegetables into Australia from around the world. After testing the veggies in his home garden, he commissions small local farmers to grow the required quantities for his top restaurant.

Qualia Executive Chef Jane-Therese Mulry also delighted on the previous night, with a modern, imaginative and brave welcome dinner to start the weekend. Prior to her appointment at qualia, Mulry is perhaps best known as the first female head chef to be appointed by Chef Marco Pierre White. Chef Jane-Therese Mulry seeks out the best quality artisan and interesting local ingredients to create her own unique dishes across the resorts dining venues.

Transport between the guest pavilions, dining destinations, qualia spa and library, as well as the many other island recreational facilities is in itself entertaining, with guests driving themselves around on golf buggies.

While the feasting was just fabulous, the warm waters of private horizon plunge pools also enticed. Even in the midst of an Australian winter, swimming, sailing and other water sports were warm and tempting in the northern pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

 

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Epicurean Adventure: Cities in a Basket: Food Markets of the World

By Tuesday, February 22, 2011 Permalink 0

by Rebecca Varidel

What better place to start an Epicurean Adventure than exploring the hub of any city — the food market.

Towns historically formed around the market centre. Farmers brought their produce to town to barter or sell, long before 20th-century industrialisation and long before we turned the fashionable 21st-century urban phrase ‘farmers’ market’. All around the world, food markets are still the bustling heart of local cuisine, and the best place to start your culinary holiday.

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Hunter Gatherer: Waste not want not: Carli Ratcliff visits Sydney’s newest (and greenest) restaurant

By Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Permalink 0

by Carli Ratcliff

A Pop-up restaurant: Greenhouse by Joost in Sydney, Australia

Our Australian correspondent Carli Ratcliff visits Sydney’s newest (and greenest) restaurant

Joost Bakker is a designer with abhorrence for waste. The son of Dutch flower growers he grew up surrounded by plants and nature and has long held the view that we must touch lightly on the earth. His own home is a straw bale construction, a technique he has also adopted in the construction of his pop-up restaurants.

The Dutch-born designer (his family migrated to Melbourne when he was nine years old) unveiled his first pop-up restaurant in Melbourne’s Federation Square in 2008 and he has another permanent greenhouse in Perth, Western Australia, which was named Perth’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ in 2010.

His harbourside pop-up, which sits prominently on the point between The Sydney Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge, opened to the public on Monday.

Constructed of shipping containers and the aforementioned straw bales, the interior walls are clad in magnesium oxide boards, impregnated with Bio-Char (a type of charcoal that captures and stores carbon). The exterior of the restaurant is covered in thousands of terracotta pots holding wild strawberry plants.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner the menu is based on local, seasonal ingredients, with an emphasis on wholefoods. Local oysters and sustainable fish, including grilled mackerel, are on offer, so too a grass-fed Waygu beef and papaya salad and handmade pappardelle with beef ragù and gremolata (the parsley comes from the roof). All arrive on slabs of plantation timber, which serve as plates, with compostable timber cutlery.

The wheat for pizzas is ground on site; the Perth restaurant currently grinds nearly a tonne of local wheat each week. Butter and yoghurt are made here, as is tonic water, the pasta, bread and pastries. Fresh juices are hand-squeezed to order and natural wines are poured straight from the barrel, both are served in jam jars.

Herbs and leaves are grown on the roof, fed regularly with compost made from the restaurant’s waste, while the oil from the deep fryer is converted into diesel which fuels the restaurant’s electricity.

In six short weeks the restaurant will be packed up. Next stop Milan.

For more information, contact Carli at carliratcliff@theramblingepicure.com

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