Natural Chardonnay Insanity

2008 Domaine D’Octavin Chardonnay “Pamina”
Jura, France

I must admit that I’m not a huge Chardonnay fan, with a few exceptions including good White Burgundy and higher end California Chardonnay from the likes of Kistler and a few others.  This wine, however, nearly dropped me to my knees when I tasted it with the boys from Sour Grapes, an Asheville based distributor of wines from small family estates.  I had to do some more research and here’s what I found.

Winemakers Alice Bouvot and Charles Dagand create their biodynamic wines in the Arbois vineyards, a tiny plot in the super interesting French region of Jura. The region is famous for the vin jaune, a sherry-like concoction made with Savagnin grapes matured in barrels for several years under a naturally occurring film of yeast, during which time it develops rich, nutty flavors and the deep yellow color.  The Pamina is not a vin jaune, but instead is made and fermented traditionally.

The first thing to understand about the wine is that it is completely natural, meaning that all farming is done without the use of any chemical pesticides, fungicides or other poisons.  Equally important though, the wine is made without the addition of any flavor, color, aromatic or textural enhancers……….it’s basically good grapes and natural yeast bottled with minute amounts of sulfites.  It should definitely be consumed close to room temperature, because that’s where things get super interesting.  The nose of this wine reminds me so much of Corton-Charlemagne with a melange of liquid mineral, butterscotch, hazelnut and leesy richness.  It almost smells like it could be sweet or late harvest, but when it hits the palate, it’s amazingly fresh and precise with a 45+ second finish.  In a nutshell, if you love White Burgundy, but don’t love spending oodles of money, this is the wine for you.

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