Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Shady Lane Cellars Chardonnay

Shady Lane Cellars

2004 Chardonnay
(Leelanau Peninsula)

Wine writers can get sick of reviewing Chardonnay. There’s a certain sameness in many samples, and, depending on the reviewer’s persuasion (is Burgundy or California your model?), approaching the dreaded Chardonnay review can often be a hunt for one that fits your perhaps too lofty ideals. That is not fair, really. The job is to describe the wine.

It’s exciting, though, to taste Chardonnay in a “new to you” region, where the terroir is a mystery of sorts, and you’re not sure what to expect. That’s because Chardonnay is the World’s White Grape, and is well known for expressing its region of origin. Some places cannot grow it at all, while at the opposite end of the spectrum are those tropical fruit bowl versions with too much alcohol and oaky vanilla. In any case, Chardonnay always tells the “terroirable truth.”

That’s partly why one becomes enamored with winemaker Adam Satchwell’s wines, of which Chardonnay is just one great example. All his wines are pure expressions, but the Chardonnay is particularly interesting in that it reflects the cooler climate of the region so well. The wine comes across as decidedly Burgundian, even though, curiously, it is not pure Chardonnay – it includes 21% Auxerrois, which apparently gives more depth in this climate. The wine is dry with some spicy but not dominant oak (11 months in American and French barrels, with 25% new oak) balancing the crisp, clean lemon and apple aromas and tastes. In other words, it’s my kind of Chardonnay.

Oops, I just gave away my persuasion. I’ve gone and outed myself as Burgundian!

Reviewed August 1, 2006 by Craig Pinhey.

The Wine

Winery: Shady Lane Cellars
Vintage: 2004
Wine: Chardonnay
Appellation: Leelanau Peninsula
Grape: Chardonnay
Price: 750ml $16.00

Review Date: 8/1/2006

The Reviewer

Craig Pinhey

Craig Pinhey is a professionally certified Sommelier, educator, wine judge, and wine writer. He is on the tasting panel for Wine Access, Canada's most respected wine magazine, and is the provincial wine columnist for the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal. Craig appears weekly on CBC Radio, and is regular beverage columnist for Halifax's The Coast, East Coast Living, Progress Magazine, and [here]: New Brunswick's Urban Voice. He prefers wines with mineral and earthy notes, distinct varietal fruit and regional character, and moderate alcohol so he can drink more of it.