LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO BEAUJOLAIS BLANC
Chardonnay is a world-class celebrity wine/ grape and no doubt has entertained the palates of billions. There is not one wine-producing region in the world that hasn’t planted her vines. To understand the magnitude of the wines made from her over the centuries is eternal. Chardonnay needs no synonyms, as she’s so famous, for good or bad, that the grape has managed to become her own brand name ambassador; “Just call me Chard”. Her birthright is the heart of Burgundy, France. It is the holy grail of Chardonnay where wines made here are the kinds of wines all producers around the globe would wish to aspire to.
Why all the fuss? Wine drinkers find it approachable and easy to enjoy. Chardonnay on the mainstream has a wide spectrum of appeal, with relatively high alcohol and low acidity, and lack of a powerful scent. Vine growers, on the other hand, find it painless to grow, highly productive, and versatile. This translates to profitability for Chardonnay’s infinite versatility in a wide range of styles. It’s not because of the wide range of dry white wines that can carry more weight than most wines, but delicate sparkling wines and even a few extremely successful sweet white wines made with the benefit of “NOBLE ROT”. It can adapt to any circumstance and any occasion, which is why I have always referred to Chardonnay as the “Tofu” of wines. But here is where Chardonnay lost the spotlight.
STEPPING THE BOUNDARIES
With success comes loss, and her status has even seen the inside of dive bars where patrons who love wine ask the bartender. “ What do you have for red or white? Only to get the equivalent of the house Night Train. There is too much of a good thing. Just as there are great Chardonnays out there, there are tons of bad Chardonnay out there.
If you all want to know, Chardonnay has a famous cousin too in the wine region of Beaujolais, Gamay. Yes, that is the same grape that makes up 95 % of vineyards plantings in the lowest half of Burgundy. Without fault, the son of Pinot Noir is not responsible for the lackluster image of Beaujolais wines. It’s most known for Beaujolais Nouveau, somewhat of the “perfect” match around the American Thanksgiving Feast table for a wine reminiscent of bubble gum. Even though Beaujolais is part of Burgundy for administrative reasons it shares a different wine culture. At one time Gamay and Chardonnay were enjoying playtime in the same vineyards in all of Burgundy in the reign of Philip the Bold. I’d say he was “ballsy” enough to damn Gamay from the region and kick it south to Beaujolais. He described Gamay as “A bad and despicable grape”, and wrapped his arms around Chardonnay. I don’t blame the guy since soils are different in Beaujolais than in the Cote d’Or. In Beaujolaise the soils are granite in which Gamay found a dominant home to flourish its high acid and perfumed aromas. There are laws here that don’t allow much white production, but Chardonnay has managed crossover borders, (what else is new) and makes amends with Gamay. She makes a presence here too; though only by 2%.
Now there’s a new group, Terroir Originals in Beaujolais who are heavily investing not their money but their passion for making famed wines called Beaujolais Blanc. Beaujolais Blanc has been around for centuries but has never been taken seriously since this is where Gamay reigns king. Each producer, like this winemaker Yohan Hardy, is independent and is radiating light on themselves in this region for the production of world-class Beaujolais Blanc wines. This is a genuine organization that brings together the celebrity of the winegrowers under the Beaujolais proper and the border of Côte Mâconnaise under a common umbrella. Beaujolais has always been associated with the simple tutti-fruity wines, “Beaujolais Nouveau”. But, for over 20 years have been on a mission to shed that image. While Gamay is still the superstar in these parts, get to know Terroir Originals. Discover a new exciting side of Chardonnay that is quickly becoming an A-lister in the wine region of Beaujolais. Terrier Originals are cashing in the market and are out to unveil wines you all have been missing out on, similar to you be waiting in line for them.
They say Yohan Lardy was born from the same earth as the vines his family farmed. It’s impossible to lure him away from the vineyards and to say he’s artisanal is scratching the surface for the passion he has for his landholdings. Naturally, it’s unsurprisingly he is a member of Terroir Originals. Beaujolais Blanc is wine so underrated but he has been the catalyst to transform Chardonnay into a different grape. The 5th generation of grape growing lineage, Yohan Lardy began his own label in 2012, as you can tell he isn’t shy to clearly display loudy on the bottle.
DOMAIN YOHAN LARDY BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGE ‘LES BRUYÈRES
Yohan Lardy wanted to capture the pure expression that Chardonnay can afford in Beaujolais. The grapes are hand-harvested from bush vines ( an old training system where vines struggle to ripen). The vineyards are all from his estate around the pretty Cru of Fleurie. He ferments whole cluster bunches for authentic flavors; organic, native yeast, no sulfur, and held in a stainless steel tank on the yeast. Chardonnay takes on easy to oak influence, and in stainless steel tanks, it remains translucent in character. Left on the yeast it rounds out the wine elegantly, for a creamy texture and an additional layer of complexity. I might add that 13% of alcohol is not uncommon for wines in the region. The weather is warmer than the north but gives the illusion the wine carries a bit of mouth-filling weight on the body without the burn.
Straw pale gold with a slight green rim, and no gas
Succulents yellow fruits, juicy golden delicious apples, green ripe pear, yellow plum and tart cherries, lemon curd pie perfumed with orange blossoms, turned fresh soil and citrus zest finish.
Dry, medium+ acid, medium+ alcohol, medium body, flaky crusty texture, medium+ flavors of Ripe tree fruit, red cherry compote, yellow field flowers, raw bitter walnuts on the mid-palate, potting soil, and medium citrus zest finish.
The is a wine with a delicate palate of flavors and a structured mineral core. It carries a fine mouthfeel on the body and good acid tension. It’s summertime and Beaujolais Blanc should be on everyone’s menu; natural, light, playful, and focused. Look for Yohan Lardy wines, as he is the standard for this style of Chardonnay. If you are a fan of Chardonnay but have been bored with her starring roles, may I suggest Beaujolais Blanc for your palate’s next viewing party?
“Every day in my vineyards, I work with and in respect of nature in order to express my terroir the most naturally and purely possible” -Yohan Lardy
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