On the plate; a generous lobster salad. My way of saying thank you to my in-laws for a great gift. The salad is a bit creamy in order to pair well with the wine of my choice; the 2011 Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay. Although pretty confident this will suit my guests preferences, I’m also allowing my ego to have a say here. You see; I love Felton Road. I love the Block 2 Chardonnay.
Block 2 surprises every time I taste it. In a positive sense. By now one shouldn’t be surprised knowing just how many impressive wines the Felton Road portfolio contains – and looking at their track record. Never ever have the top Chardonnay disappointed me. Sure, some years I prefer, like the 2009 and 2010 but the surprise lies in the variation they boast; the expression of the vintage and yet keeping a ‘Felton Road’-style.
My first taste of the 2011. I’m allowing the wine some air in the decanter before serving it. Lots of wet rocks and gun smoke on the nose! My instant thought takes me to France and Corton-Charlemagne. If this had been served blind to me I would most likely have felt pretty proud nailing a Grand cru. Lemon curd, lime peel, a gentle dash of oak, Granny Smith and unripe pineapples. Still too young, in this phase of life, but so promising stuff. On the palate the mineral driven acidity almost shocks me at first. Wet rocks and gun smoke in abundum. Nope, the French aren’t the only ones able to elicit this enchanting individual characteristic in a Chardonnay. There’s these guys in Central Otago as well!
And the careful oak treatment. Only 15 percent new oak in the 2011 Block 2. No vanilla bombardment here and if freshly ground coffee is a feature you regard highly in your oak aged Chardonnay, this is not your choice of wine.
It works splendidly with the lobster salad. If a Corton-Charlemagne on the nose, it’s more of a Mersault on the palate. A really fine Mersault that is. Lermon curd, apple peel, the wet rocks and the unripe pineapples again. Fine concentration and lovely structure already in this youthful stage and the wine elevates with the food. Just what it’s all about actually. The long, pure, almost cool mineral driven finish clearly shows that Central Otago has the potential for world-class Chardonnay. Did I say I love Felton Road?
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NB. Why compare you might think? Why taste the wine and think Burgundy? Easy. Because it’s the proto-form of Chardonnay and a reference for me. And yes, learning the expressions and sense of place in a region I don’t possess the same knowledge about, needs comparisons in order to understand. It doesn’t indicate that Burgundy is the number one when it comes to Chardonnay. The Block 2 would embarrass several of them in a blind tasting.