Friday, March 14, 2008

1999 Varner Amphitheater Block Chardonnay

Found this little gem at K&L wines recently; a singleton from a private collection, being sold for under $10, when the current vintage costs $30-$35. Presumably someone thought that a 9 year old Chardonnay would be way past its best, but as the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Varner bottles their Chardonnay in three distinct "blocks"; Bee, Amphitheater and Home. Generally Home is considered the best of the three, but since it's all from the same 10 acre vineyard the quality is pretty close. The oldest one that I've tried was a 1998 Bee Block at about 5 years of age (which was superb).

The colour seemed good through the green glass of the bottle; no obvious sign of oxidation. The cork was fairly saturated but otherwise in good condition.

In the glass it had a pale straw colour to it. On the nose there was butterscotch and vanilla, and a hint of lemon peel. No sign of oxidation. On the palate there was a bracing acidity, more than any other Varner I've tasted. There was also plenty of lemon and minerality, plus that slightly oily mouthfeel that I've noticed in some older Chardonnays. A very nice, crisp wine; shame that there was only one.

So today's tip is to always keep an eye on the "bargain bin". You never know what you might find.