A French Connection for International Chardonnay Day

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Today is a double whammy: May 25th is International Chardonnay Day, as well as National Wine Day for the USA. I must be insane or a glutton for punishment for posting twice today, but oh well. You have your wine reading cut out for you for a while! 🙂

For National Wine Day, I am saving a little bit of time by utilizing an expert on Virginia wine, Matt Fitzsimmons. I took this as an excuse to learn about wine in a different part of my country. Matt has his own blog over at Wine Trails and Wanderlust, and he is graciously letting me reblog his post on Virginia wines for this holiday. His excellent post covers all you need to know and then some about Virginia wine (don’t worry, it’s not too long, I made it sound like it might be lengthy). Do check it out! You will learn a lot and get bit by the wine travel bug (I know I did!).

So for International Chardonnay Day, then, I thought I would turn to La Belle France, birthplace of the esteemed Chardonnay grape. For Americans who are not experts or at least moderately familiar with them, European wines can often be mysterious and perplexing. But with a few recommendations to point you in the right direction, you can be well on your way to enjoying some truly lovely wines from Europe. I love my local and American wines, but branching out to other continents is great fun. Don’t let it scare you, and don’t be a vino xenophobe! 🙂

The French region of Burgundy is world-renowned for its Pinot Noir red wine and Chardonnay white wine. This particular Chardonnay I selected is from the Chablis appellation in Burgundy.

Domaine Chenevieres Chablis

The perfect place to begin exploring fine French Chardonnay… Chablis

2019 Domaine Chenevieres Chablis

  • Appellation d’Origine Controlee
  • Currently $27/bottle at Total Wine
  • 12.5% ABV
  • Medium body
  • Elegant, crisp and refreshing, good minerality (this is not a rich, buttery, oaky California or Australia Chardonnay with tropical fruit flavors)
  • Delicate balanced fruit profile – pear, apple, mandarin, apricot, floral – if white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris make you pucker with their tart citrus flavors, you might be more receptive to gentler, rounder Chardonnay

Here’s how and where this wine was made:

“Domaine Chenevieres is located in ‘La Chapelle Vaupelteigne,’ a hamlet located in the northern side of the Chablis appellation in Burgundy. 100% Chardonnay vines grown on a plateau with kimmeridgian limestone soils. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in stainless-steel vats to preserve the minerality and purity of the fruit.”

According to Wine Enthusiast, limestone soils are naturally alkaline with high pH levels. Limestone is essentially calcified sediment from shells, coral, and other seabed debris. Because of this unique chemical composition, limestone soil is reputed to increase minerality and acidity in the grapes that grow in it, although many scientists claim the evidence is lacking. I say the proof is in the pudding, and if you try this Chardonnay you can’t miss the definite mineral character of the wine and the unique influence the soil sure seems to have on the grapes. Yet the debate rages on….

I really liked this Chardonnay, and would gladly buy it again, either when I’m in the mood for such a wine or looking for a really nice white wine to go with seafood. The price wasn’t so out of the park that you felt like you’d been socked in the gut. This is a great white wine to keep in your back pocket (so to speak) for bringing to dinner parties or any event where there will be white wine/Chardonnay drinkers.

Total Wine also sells several other Chablis from Domaine Chenevieres, from different vineyards and classifications. I believe the higher prices reflect higher quality or more prestigious vineyards. I was perfectly satisfied with the $27 introductory bottle, but you do you.

Salut to Chardonnay, and Vive La France! ❤

Happy International Chardonnay Day! Do you have a favorite? Comment below!

Nat Geo Wines of the World


An Argentinian Treasure for World Malbec Day

Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I receive a commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Hear ye, hear ye! Today I doth proclaim World Malbec Day, a day to solemn ourselves and pay tribute to the magnificent Malbec grape, and all its vinous manifestations, forsooth (rolls up scroll).

Yep, here we are with another wine holiday on our hands. This time it’s World Malbec Day; yea verily yea (I really need to start using that phrase IRL)! It’s interesting that Tannat Day and Malbec Day are so close together on the calendar, and they are the signature grapes of neighboring countries Uruguay (Tannat) and Argentina (Malbec). Not sure if this was done on purpose or not, but it makes sense to continue our little South American sojourn, so vámanos.

Malbec is a wine I have intensely adored, especially in my beginning days of wine exploration. And I still love it. I haven’t had it as much lately because I’ve been spending my wine budget elsewhere, but for me and many in the world it’s a classic.

I’ve had wonderful Malbecs from my home state of Washington, but today I’m unlocking my wine treasure chest to introduce you to one of my favorite Argentinian Malbecs, which will give you a great idea of why Malbec shines in this country.

Malbec and Tannat have similar backstories. In the 16th century, Spanish missionaries spread vinifera plantings throughout Argentina to establish a supply of sacramental wine. Using the farming practices of the natives, the Spanish irrigated the vineyards in the valley with ice/snow melt from the Andes Mountains. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many European immigrants came to Argentina and brought with them new grape varieties, including Malbec. Both Tannat and Malbec are grapes native to southwest France.

This particular Malbec is magical. I used this wine in a class I taught to illustrate Old World vs. New World wine characteristics (essentially, warmer climates yield grapes with higher sugar content, and cooler climates yield grapes with higher acid content, because they don’t ripen as much as their warm climate counterparts). Everyone loved it, and this beauty just got more interesting and sumptuous the longer it revealed itself in the decanter.

For best results, decant for 30-60 minutes prior to drinking. If it’s for a group, pour out the whole bottle into a decanter.

Here are the details and my impressions of the wine:

Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza Argentina

Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza Argentina. Photo courtesy Total Wine.

Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza Argentina

  • $27/bottle at Total Wine
  • Full body, lots of heft, 15% ABV
  • Good acidity providing solid structure
  • Bold, unfolding layers of blackberry, black cherry, coffee, chocolate, tobacco
  • Velvety texture
  • Long, complex, irresistible finish

As I have regrettably lost my tasting notes from the last time I had this wine, my list may be missing a few details, but I’m providing you with the product description from Total Wine, which sums up my recollection as well:

“A very complex and elegant wine with floral aromas of violets, black cherries and licorice. On the palate the wine is deep and rich, perfectly balanced with delicate silky tannins and well integrated French oak. Perfect with a juicy steak, game, rich cheeses and chocolate desserts.”

My husband picked up this wine from Total Wine years ago. We first had it with a roast and it was magnífico. It’s one wine we turn to again and again and we are always floored by its quality. Remember, Argentina is also famous for its excellent beef, so Malbec + steak = natural harmony.

Total Wine also sells the Phebus Malbec ($14) and the Phebus Malbec Reserva ($17) in addition to the Gran Reserva ($27). I’ve had the Reserva which is still excellent – not as outstanding as the GR but nevertheless a wonderful wine for the price. You can try the others, but the Gran Reserva is unbeatable in style and quality. Go ahead and splurge on this version, I assure you it’s worth it!

For fun, buy all three bottles and do side-by-side tasting comparisons. See if you think they are each worth their price. Call it your World Malbec Day fiesta!

Happy World Malbec Day! Do you have a favorite Malbec I should know about? ¡Dígame! 🙂

Nat Geo Wines of the World