Thursday, May 25, 2006

Babich, Hawkes Bay, Chardoonnay, 2004 New Zealand

Babich, Hawkes Bay, Chardoonnay, 2004 New Zealand (Unwooded)

For people, looking for the short version, go for it! It's great. For people, who also want reflections on Chardonnay, and a bit of a diatribe, read on.

All people who love wine have a few raw nerves. There are just things in the wine world that iritate us. For me, one of my hot buttons is a blind prejudice against Chardonnay.

I frequently hear people make a blanket pronouncement that they don't like Chardonnay very much -- sometimes they go so far as to say that they actually hate Chardonnay! When I hear that, I get a little bit cross because the assertion fails to recognize so many great wines that are made from this wonderful grape. Encouraging these folks to approach a Montrachet with an open mind is a rather expensive experiment, but it is worth reflecting a little what provoked the prejudice in the first place.

(Some Chardonnay bashers are not even aware that Chardonnay is the only grape used to make Chablis, Montrachet, Meursault, and Pouilly Fuisse. And, of course, it is the only white grape used to make Champagne.)

I am pretty certain that your average Chardonnay hater has only limited exposure to Chardonnay. Typically, they have tasted cheap generic Chardonnay in a pub or a restaurant where Chardonnay is one of the "house wines." Often, this drink, which is sometimes simply called "Chard," is served at the wrong temperature in a horrid glass. And this generic Chard often tastes of oak rather than wine, which might appeal to a woodpecker rather than a wine lover.

As I said the alternatives (Chablis, Montrachet, etc.) are often a bit expensive, but Babich Chardonnay (2004) from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand is a terrific opportunity to really taste the fruit at a reasonable price. This dry wine, which has had no exposure to oak whatsoever, has tastes of crisp apple, melon, and peaches, and it has a nice clean finish. It is very highly recommended.

The Wine Spectator gave this wine only 85 points, with the following comments:

“Tart, with intensity and vibrancy to green banana, green pear, lime peel and honeysuckle flavors that will show best with food. Drink now."
I agree with the "Drink now" bit! (If forced to score this wine, I would have given it 90. And there was no green banana there for me although the citrus bit is on target.)

If you are looking for oak and butter, though, stay away from this wine!

Like a lot of wines from New Zealand, this wine comes with a screwcap. For a Wikipedia article on screwcaps, click here.

I bought this wine at The Iron Bridge Wine Company in Maryland. It was one of their monthly specials in May, and was priced at $12.00 a bottle. (I usually buy a case of their monthly specials, and this gave me a 20% discount.)

1 comment:

suzy & todd said...

Hey there, I am guilty of avoiding chardonnays, but maybe you've opened our minds a little today...thanks! We'll have to look for this at the wine shop!
-suzy