Antica 2009 Chardonnay: Save your money

January 23, 2012

Antinori, the well-known Italian Chianti producer that has been sharpening its image by trying to shape-shift into Tuscan Tignanello and Solaia, is trying the Napa Chard market with 2009 Antica Chardonnay. It is a classic wine tale. When Antica '09 came on stream, one of my gurus, Tony Galloni, jumped up with a healthy 94-point rating for this Atlas Peak Napa Chard. When it went on sale under $30, I decided to do a little research.

Tony, my guru, stick to what you know. Antica is at best 86-88 points and at the opening price, in the mid $30s, it was a rip-off. Too much mineral and acid, plus use of new oak to mask, buried a soupcon of very nice flavors of citrus, apple and perhaps some hazelnut and vanilla. Although the wine is still young, I doubt it will come together, and it has a slightly hot alcoholic finish. The range of critical evaluations from a low 87 to 88 WS, to 94 WA prompted me to sample Antica. Save your money.

For those who enjoy minerality in Chardonnay, have your local wine store emissary search for some 2008 Domaine de la Chapelle Saint Veran Madame Noly. You should be able to acquire the good lady for less than $300/case. A lovely, pale-golden color, it opens to a bouquet of lemon and grapefruit that evolves into pear and dried tropical fruit flavors highlighted with hints of caramel apple and riding a proper acid frame. Plenty of minerality suggests an oyster marriage. Finishes long, clean and lemony.

2009 Chateau Devise d'Ardilley was the winner of the Coup de Cru Bourgeois (of a sample of 164 of the best Bourgeois from 2009), at Vinexpo, at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. Ch. Devise is a close neighbor to St. Julien and Paulliac. It has a bouquet of dark berries and orange jam. Martin, WA, claims, "Sheer class. The palate is beautifully balanced with superb acidity. Very vibrant, very composed with a sensual, caressing finish worthy of a Grand Cru Classe.” I only hope you who enjoy Bordeaux are loading up your cellars. With the 2009 you almost can’t miss. The Cru Bourgeois, even the best, are priced under $250/case. They will age 20. If you are a young cellarer, trust me on this 15 years out - you will be dancing with joy as you drink these.

Another great cellar wine is Chablis Grand Cru. This name denotes the highest-quality dry white wines produced around the town of Chablis in France. The wine comes from seven distinct plots on a single southwest-facing slope to the east of the town.

They constitute approximately 3 percent of the total Chablis output and comprise about 250 acres. The seven are: Preuses, Bougros, Vaudesir, Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos and Blanchot. The La Moutonne vineyard, which is divided between the Preuses and Vaudesir climates, is the unofficial eighth Grand Cru name, historically overlooked by the appellation. OK, McD, what’s up?? I recommended the Domaine William LeFevre Grand Cru Les Preuses 2004, 95 points, five years ago. At the time it was priced at $760/case and estimated ready time was 2010-20. Hold your fire! Well, it’s ready now, and lo and behold, it can be found for $800/case. At a recent tasting I enjoyed, it compared favorably with Valmur and Vaudesir. Green fruit and citrus aromas augmented by subtle quinine serve to highlight round, sweet and powerful flavors of loam, apples and seashell. The quinine is improving to flowery honey aromas. The finish waxes and wanes well over a minute. This is very rich wine for Chablis. A truly wonderful Grand Cru Chablis for folks with discerning palates. See you next week. Go you NY Giants!

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