Although Chardonnay is the world’s most produced white wine, some people simply don’t like Chardonnay. The wine’s poor rap is usually associated with overwhelming aromas that remind the drinker of wet buckets of popcorn soaked in cinema butter or licking the side of an oak tree covered in vanilla.
The only problem is that a particular perception represents only one style of Chardonnay.
It’s true that many of the vines in stores across the country are stocked with not-so-large Chardonnay bottles, much of which are from up-and-coming California winemakers who use new oak barrels for fermentation as opposed to old barrels. However, Chardonnay has a much greater variety of flavors and aromas than its decadently creamy reputation would suggest.
Although it has above-average acidity, Chardonnay is a rather fruity grape, brimming with personality – the character you get in a glass depends only on the place and climate where it is grown. For this reason, producers all over the world can produce wines that taste like a tropical oasis or like vanilla shortbread in almond butter.
In the French region of Chablis, the Domaine Laroche produces Chablis – as the Chardonnay is classified there – which, unlike other white wines, stands out for its fresh minerality.
In particular, the brand’s Chablis Saint Martin is characterized by seductive aromas of juicy white fruits and apple blossoms, which are conveyed in its extremely relaxed taste. The stony elements in the persistent and lively finish, however, give the wine an unexpected yet charming pizza aroma that some wine lovers who are new to it would not normally associate with a Chardonnay.
This unmistakable, lively charm of the Chablis Saint Martin – a characteristic that is evident throughout the Domaine Laroche portfolio of Premier and Grand Cru Chablis – is the result of the land and history from which the wine originates.
Located in the northernmost part of Burgundy, the cool climate of Chablis is stored in the DNA of the grapes and affects all the components of Chardonnay, such as its mineral base and antioxidants. Gregory Viennois, the technical director and winemaker of Domaine Laroche, paid tribute to the company’s historical practices, which follow the methods first introduced when the abbots of St. Martin de Tours settled in Chablis and introduced the famous Obédiencerie more than 1,000 years ago, for the excellent taste of the wine.
“We have such an extraordinary heritage of winemaking within our walls that we feel a responsibility not only to produce great wines, but also to continue the history of Laroche over time,” Viennois told Tekk.tv. “This includes the greatest possible respect for traditions, know-how and the cycles of nature. Constant observation and empirical approach are very critical”.
The winery uses more modern equipment to support its winemaking process today, but it continues to follow centuries-old habits such as the one-man plantation, where a single person is responsible for all the care (pruning, harvesting, tilling, etc.) of a single vineyard plot – although the old wooden wine press monks who made wine centuries ago still appear now and then during the grape harvest.
Viennois also noted the practice of pulling the grapes when all the qualitative components such as antioxidants and minerals are still in the skins, as a key factor in the elegantly crisp and precise Chablis of Domaine Laroche.
“This allows the perfect expression of the minerality of our wines and offers a natural protection against aging and oxidation. Our Chablis always show complexity, texture and a great mouth filling with a long finish. You can even pick some salty aromas and a touch of mineral bitterness, which is very pleasant,” Viennois said.
The remarkable differences and the history of Domaine Laroche have long benefited the winery and have led to it stocking the cellars of some of the most prestigious restaurants and hotels around the world. Not only the elite and world travelers can enjoy the many wines produced at the winery. Bottles of Chablis Saint Martin, which cost between $28 and $38, and higher priced, collectible top wines such as Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots and several others are also available at selected retailers.