03/25/10 – March Madness week #5 (Chardonnay)

By Jesse on March 23, 2010

It’s time for week five of our third-annual March Madness blind tasting tournament. For six weeks, we’re tasting six of the world’s most recognizable varietals, one per week. After that, we’ll have two weeks of championship tasting, in which we go balls-out crazy with the blind tasting, drawing on what we’ve learned over the past six weeks in our effort to be crowned the official Young Winos blind tasting champion.

Week #1 — Sauvignon Blanc (done)
Week #2 — Syrah / Shiraz (done)
Week #3 — Riesling (done)
Week #4 — Pinot Noir (done)
Week #5 — Chardonnay
Week #6 — Cabernet Sauvignon
Week #7 — Blind white tasting
Week #8 — Blind red tasting

Each week, we bring bottles of the given varietal from all around the world. Before the tasting starts, two people volunteer to donate the two “mystery bottles,” and their wines are placed in brown bags. (For your wine to be granted this special honor, you must be sure that no one else knows what part of the world it’s from.)

We start things off with an open (non-blind) tasting of up to six bottles, representing the major regions where the particular wine is made. (For example, on Chardonnay week, we’ll taste one or two bottles each of French, Californian, and Australian.) When tasting, we pay special attention to what characteristics are typical of what regions.

Finally, we bring out the two mystery bottles in their brown bags. In complete silence, we sniff and taste wine #1, and then we make our region guesses on slips of paper, which are collected and put aside. Once everyone’s guess is in, we discuss the wine, and reveal the bottle. Then we repeat the process for #2, and we tally up the points. One point for each correct guess (incorrect guess results in no points, but points are not deducted). The donors each receive one-half point as compensation for not being able to participate in that round. Then we break for cheese time, and then we drink whatever bottles remain!

Week five is Chardonnay, a ubiquitous grape planted in more regions around the world than any other varietal, out of which we’ll be focusing on three. First and foremost is Burgundy, Chardonnay’s legendary home in France, the site of such illustrious sub-regions as Chablis and Pouilly-Fuisse. Also on the menu is California, where the grape is grown in every major wine region. Finally, we’ll check out Australia, no longer just a destination for cheap “jug-style” Chardonnay — great examples are being made in Margaret River, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley, and Tasmania. Please bring a wine from one of these three worldwide destinations.

**If you bring an Australian, try to get one from a specific region (not just a broad catch-all region like “South Australia” or whatever) so we know we’re drinking something interesting.
**Same goes for California… if it just says “California,” and nothing more specific, it probably means it was grown by Fred Franzia et al. in the Central Valley.

We’ll be meeting at Adra’s place in Santa Monica. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions). If you’re denied entry due to a meeting exceeding capacity, don’t worry — you’ll be at the top of the list the next week.

Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a bottle of Chardonnay from Burgundy, California, or Australia (or bring a $10 donation, if you prefer). We’ll see you ballers on Thursday at 8pm.