Middleton Family Wines sent out an interesting trio called the Chardonnay Sensory Spectrum. Amidst a flood of California Chardonnay, it provides an opportunity to try an unoaked wine from Washington and both oaked and unoaked bottles from Western Australia.
Personally I thought the two Western Australia bottles won out, but the Washington representative is no slouch. Serving a group of diverse Chardonnays to wine novices is a great way to show how versatile a single grape can be.
2009 Ad Lib Hen & Chicken Chardonnay
Pemberton, Margaret River, Western Australia
$17, 13.5% abv.
Dried apricot, touch of acidity, round and smooth with a short finish. I love the calligraphic chickens on the front and was inspired to enjoy the wine with some fried chicken. The wine was aged in French oak for ten months, providing a nice balance without going overboard. There were just minor notes of vanilla and toast.
2010 Ad Lib Tree Hugger No Oak Chardonnay
Karridale, Margaret River, Western Australia
$17, 12.7% abv.
I laughed at the disclaimer "No trees were harmed in the making of this wine." And once again, nice label. Simple black and white geometric design. This wine was more acidic with touches of lemon and peel, and a crisp, refreshing body. Clean with a touch of minerality and delightful on a hot spring day.
2009 Buried Cane Whiteline No Oak Chardonnay
Columbia Valley, Washington
$14, 13.3% abv.
I wrote a while back about the rebranding of Buried Cane and still like the old woodcut designs. Green apple and pear aromas and flavors dominate, and this one has a bolder body than the Tree Hugger but still retains that light and crisp no oak experience.
These are all great food-friendly wines, and should pair with just about anything you're serving in the increasingly warm afternoons. I tried them over a few days with a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.
P.S. Here's a closeup of the Hen & Chicken wine. It's just delightful in a children's book way:
Note: These wines were received as samples.