A Taste of Two Chardonnays and a Delicious Prosecco

by Mark Patykewich on June 14, 2019

Hello from The Caviste

Summer is rolling up quick, schools are out and camps are starting. I thought it would be a good time to present two of the favorite wines in Winston-Salem – delicious Chardonnay and a top tier Prosecco. All speak to summer in a bottle and are perfect for the wonderful porch weather we have been having recently.


Chardonnay is one of the most planted and perhaps best known wine grapes in the world. With anything so well known, there cannot help but be varying opinions from people who only drink Chardonnay to the ‘ABC’ group, Anything But Chardonnay. As with anything so widely discussed, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The real dividing factor is not the grape, Chardonnay, but the level of oak/barrel aging and malolactic fermentation in the production process. The more of these two, the richer, rounder and more buttery the wine. The less even to none, the more crisp, clear and laser like the wine. So, today, we will present two Chardonnay’s that present a fine contrast in the two styles, both from Burgundy and roughly 40 miles apart.


Domaine de la Chappelle Santenay Blanc
Santenay as a region is mainly known for red wines but it neighbors a renowned white wine region, Chassagne-Montrachet.  White wines from the region are rare, but when found they often reflect the style and elegance of their better known neighbors, as this wine certainly does.
Domaine Chapelle dates back to 1893 when the family first purchased land in Santenay and Cassagne-Montrachet.  The white wines of this estate are rare for two reasons.  First, Santenay mainly produces reds from Pinot Noir.  And for Domaine Chapelle, only about 5% of their production is exported.  But the soils of the Beate, limestone under sandy loam are perfect for whites like this. The vines are 43 years old and the wine is raised for 12 months in barrel with some bating and malolactic is allowed to take place.
These steps result in the richer slightly rounder style of wine one expects from a Cassagne-Montrachet.  But the limestone soil provides a nice underpinning of lively mineral flavors.  It is a gorgeous wine full of rich lemon curd and hints of apricot and ripe pear, perfect for crab or a lemony roast chicken.  $29 a bottle
Bonhomme Vire-Clesse
Vire-Clessé is one of the newer appellations in Burgundy, created in 1999.  It was created to single out high quality vineyard sites not covered under the Pouilly appellation, such as Pouilly-Fuisse and others.  Appellation rules limit wines to a maximum of 3 grams of sugar.  This results in wines that are as dry and crisp as Chablis but a bit more richness since the region is further south and the soil contains more clay.
The Bonhomme domaine was founded by Andre Bonhomme in 1956, in Saone-et-Loire, in Burgundy’s southern outposts the Maconnais.  His Vire-Clesse bottling comes from a two hectare parcel where vines average 30 years of age, and grow in clay and limestone. This is one of their highest elevation vineyards called “Les Pierres-Blanches.” 
All grapes are grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides and harvested by hand at very low yields. All wines are fermented using natural yeasts in a mix of steel and wood and undergo malolactic fermentation.  100% Chardonnay, the wines are full of texture, richness, and beautiful fruit concentration. This bottle exhibits the classic flavors of asian pear, lemon, and a crisp minerality. They are medium bodied with a rich mid-palate. The wine finishes with notes of soft ripe yellow apple and a hint of lemon inflected sea salt.  The minerality has me thinking of fresh fish, perhaps flaky white fish over shaved fennel or grilled scallops. This would make a delicious beach wine.  $28 a bottle.
Alla Costiera Prosecco
Just in time for your first summer getaway, we have one of the favorite sparkling wines back in the store, Alla Costiera’s Prosecco.
Let’s be clear – not all wine is created equal.  This is simply a fact.  All may be “fermented grape juice” to an extent, but some are full of a possible 200 chemicals and made in batches of 200,000 to 500,000 bottles at a time.  We each can have our own preference, and should, but let’s not confuse artisan production with high volume mass produced items.  Alla Costiera was one of the first estates in the Veneto to tend their vines attentively and organically.  Today, they have some of the oldest Glera, the base grape for Prosecco, vines in the region.
This wine cost about the same as any grocery store wine but is made in batches of 2,500 bottles at a time and the quality is easily twice the large production items.  It maintains the enjoyable and lively drinkability Prosecco is known for but has a bit more seriousness and depth to it. I love the way fragrant floral notes intermingle with lime and white peach notes all enlivened by refreshing bubbles.  $16 a bottle.
I would strongly suggest stocking up on this wine for summer get togethers and party gifts when visiting friends.  To facilitate this, we will offer 15% off by the case.  Email us if you would like for us to set some aside.
Have a wonderful weekend, 
Russ and Mark

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