As you’ve noted, buttery and toasty chardonnays have become somewhat out of favour in recent years. Perhaps because our taste buds are getting old and can no longer really appreciate delicate wines, my wife and I like big, buttery chards as well as muscular reds. However, it’s quite difficult to find big chardonnays and I wonder if you can recommend a few.
Your question puts a finger on an ironic development.
It’s true, big, buttery chardonnays are increasingly seen as out of fashion. Perhaps that’s putting it mildly; to many consumers they are anathema. Out with the heavy oak and full malolactic fermentation (a process that creates buttery flavour and texture) and in with a leaner, crisper style. Oddly, as your letter underscores, this is happening just as some people, notably the baby boomers who drove the wine boom during the past quarter-century, ease into their years of wisdom. With age often comes a change in palate sensitivity, and when it comes to wine I’d submit it usually means a preference for bigger flavours and increased sweetness.
Yours is not the first letter I’ve received from older people who note they no longer taste food and drink as they did in youth or middle age. It takes a self-confident connoisseur to admit he likes big-bruiser chardonnays of the sort mainly associated with California and Australia. I suspect even winemakers behind a couple of the products I’m about to list might not appreciate being lumped into an item about the topic. But here it goes – a few recently tasted chards to which I would apply the term buttery, and not in a disparaging way: Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011 (California); Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2012 (California); First Press Chardonnay 2011 (California); Mountadam Estate Chardonnay 2009 (Australia); Ad Lib Chardonnay 2010 (Australia); Pierre André Puligny-Montrachet 2011 (France); and Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay 2010 (Niagara).
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