I'm a little late getting out this issue of Wine of the Week. Wish I could say something like "I was too busy enjoying myself over the weekend lounging in Napa Valley and partaking of some glorious wines," but alas, I cannot use that excuse. It was due to some glorious wine that I had last night and still had on my mind this morning. Of course, that's when I finally realized that I needed to get my butt in gear and start getting serious about getting this weeks edition in print.
With the knowledge that I was going to be making some seared sea scallops over a bed of rice with a sauce I made from some form of red peppers preserved in a vinegar that I found at Whole foods in their open buffet of various olives and other assorted foods that really brought a nice kick to the meal. I started looking for something that would be rich and have a little more body to the wine. Also knowing that I would be searing the scallops in butter, my first thought ran along the lines of a big slightly buttery Chardonnay. But when I added the spiciness of the sauce I knew I wanted to cut back on the butteriness of the wine.
Looking through my assortment of wines, I saw the perfect wine. With its wax covered neck and the winery name of "Melville," I found what I knew would be perfect. A few hours in the fridge, and when needed I opened the
Melville Inox Clone 76 Estate Chardonnay 2014
So pray tell, what's all this Inox and clone business you might ask?
Pretty simple actually. The term INOX is French for Stainless, meaning the wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel and sees no oak what so ever. Clone 76 is just the clonal variety of the chardonnay that is used. So what's the big deal you may ask, it's simply an unoaked Chardonnay. Au contraire. It is so much more than that.
It's important to note that this is part of what Melville calls their "Small Lot Collection." How small? The wine comes from an estate parcel only 1.8 acres in size and they only get 1.3 tons of grapes per acre. So what does that equate to? Only around 300 cases of wine made. Coming from the Santa Rita Hills in California, and using what is called cold stabilization, the wine retains its crisp acidity as it undergoes little if any malolactic fermentation. Make no mistake, this is still a handcrafted wine from start to finish.
With its citrus and melon aromas wafting through the air, it does its best to call you to savor its flavor (okay, that just came out of nowhere, I promise). When you do raise your glass and take that first sip, those same aromas combine with a peach, tropical fruit and a slight minerality leading to a crisp finish. So how did go with the scallops? Knowing how much of a wine snob I am, I could say something like "Who cares" but in actuality, it was superb!
So as I've said many times, I love small handcrafted wines. They can represent the best of the best when done right like this one is. On the downside of things, you can guess that this wine may not be widely available. I should also point out that since I was drinking the 2014, the current vintage that you may find would be either the 2015 or 2016. Don't worry though, either one will be excellent. Last note, as with most small lot wines, this isn't in the price range of a lot of those simple easy drinking unoaked chardonnays out there. More than likely, you'll see this over $40 and, more probably, somewhere between that and $50. If you do find it, give it a try.