Sugar Creek Winery2004 Chardonel, Estate
It is hard to find a Chardonel with an aroma strong enough to allow particular scents to be distinguished. At Sugar Creek Winery in Defiance, Missouri, vintner Chris Lorch coaxes his Chardonel to express a cirtusy, apple nose that is very welcome to one in search of a fresh, dry Missouri white with a bouquet. The French oak is rather strong, but a pleasant diacetyl creaminess lingers in the finish. This creaminess (evident as butteriness in many Chardonnays) is the result of a secondary fermentation that often mutes fruitiness. This estate grown Chardonel, however, maintains its fruitiness, thanks to its Seyval Blanc parent and Chris’ skill. Chardonel is a French-American hybrid of Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay.
The tasting room is a refurbished barn that feels of Provence rather than Missouri. The plank floor is worn, and one interior wall that was for years an exterior wall is rough and touchable. The surrounding landscape is a patchwork of thick woods, hills, and fields dotted with mottled cattle. The wine, the buildings, and the landscape make Sugar Creek an invigorating sensory experience.
In the winemaking barn, Chris seems very pleased at the sample he tastes from a stainless steel fermenter. It is a Chambourcin rosé, which is indeed tasty, but I just hope he keeps making the Chardonel, too.
Reviewed November 15, 2005 by Tim Pingelton.
As a professional winemaker and writer, Tim Pingelton understands how growing conditions and vinification techniques affect the grapes as they become wine. As an Appellation America correspondent, he realizes that a balance must be struck between standards in flux and standards fixed in time. Tim continually explores the areas about which he writes to personally relate how their wines do or do not embody appellation-specific characteristics.