Lil' Corton-Charlemange? Paul Cluver Estate Chardonnay 2010, Elgin and a Wild Assortment of Some Other Chardonnays

On various occasions I’ve seen a concise description of this Chardonnay which always ended with the conclusion: “tastes like a little Corton-Charlemange”! Can that be true? If so, how? I anticipate a bit: No! At least not for me! I don't even know how to relocate this Chardonnay to Burgundy? The characteristics of this wine weren't all too "Burgundian-Style" (whatever that might mean). At least to me. I also don’t know what these references or insinuations might mean! Are there precise and typical characteristics to all Corton-Charlemagne wines? As far as I am concerned: not so much (perhaps anymore? If ever?)! Does that implicate high standard quality? And what the hell does “little” mean anyway? Sorry for those rude questions to an invisible addressee! I am just a bit peeved about these ongoing and totally useless marketing delusions! I can’t see any need for such comparisons! I anticipate again: It is a good wine with a certain amount of “unique” characteristics! There is no need for such marketing driven verbalisations! Guys, let the quality speak for itself! Considering its attractive price, accessibility and international ratings (for me a bit too high ones) there won’t be any problem in selling this Chardonnay! Sorry, enough bewildering bashing for today ;-)! Now the wine:

Paul Cluver Wines was the first real winery in Elgin Valley. The Apple Land of South Africa! Over the past one and a half decades his Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs gained a lot of respect in South Africa and amongst the lovers of cooler climate South African wines around the world. The vines for today’s Chardonnay are 5 to 23 years old and were cultivated on decomposed shale with underlying clay layers. The wine was 100% wild fermented and aged in 40% new oak barrels. The rest were 2nd, 3rd and 4th fills.

The colour looked relatively bright yellow with rich reflexes. At first the nose appeared to show plenty of red apples, lemon peel, fresh and bit green'ish lemons, a bit of tea (camomile and green tea), weak and tart gooseberries and gently muted oak. Gradually more mineral features of flint and ohter wet stones appeared. Not all too expressive or multi-layered ones. The lemon’ish features reinforced, the apples faded a bit and traces of slightly more exotic fruits arose. In conclusion a nice, fruitful and indulging nose without too much complexity or demand. The taste seemed very much the same. The mineral features were slightly more predominant, but definitely excelled by the very nice fruitful flavours. The oak was well integrated (mostly elegant and mild vanilla with a reserved sweetness) and not very buttery or fat. The concentration and alcohol were well integrated. The length appeared decent. The acid seemed lively and satisfyingly invigorating. The actual body seemed almost delicate. Absolutely no big boobs or big muscles. What sex resp. gender does Chardonnay have anyway? Is it feminine? Male? I don’t really know? And I really don’t care ;-). In conclusion: a nice, well crafted, decently elegant, accessible, not really challenging or over-complicated wine! Absolutely fair QPR!

Due to insufficient funds in proper tasting notes (caused by too much Chardonnay) I decided to keep the description of the others as short as possible: At first I had a decent, unique tasting, nutty, a bit smoky, slightly sweet honeysuckle’ish, well aged and perhaps a bit cranky Fläsch Chardonnay 2006 from Christian Hermann in Bündner Herrschaft, Switzerland. Another fellow came from Santa Cruz Mountains in California: Ridge Chardonnay 2009. This one appeared unusually bright pale yellow-white and from the nasal side totally lean and muted. The actual taste showed a lot of very decent potential for the future, with good power - not overdone or maybe Cali-bombastic - but right now it was far too juvenile and brute to rate it in any way. The next one was an abrasive, inharmonious, faceless and thin Mercury Blanc 2008 from Bruno Lorezon. With a lot of goodwill it might have been consumable. No obvious flaws or faults were apparent. Don’t really know what that was …!? The last one was the Dautel Chardonnay S 2007 from Württemberg in Germany. This one appeared a bit buttery, a bit exotic, not as precise as I remembered and almost slightly boozy. Unfortunately a bit dull and maybe already fatigue. I suppose I’d rate it with a: so-so!

PS: By the way, Thanks for the photos Budi!

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