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Wine Review: Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2005 ($22)

Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2005 ($22)

Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid

This Chardonnay from Chile’s Casablanca Valley is intoxicating at first sight

Along the remote northern edge of the Chilean coast, the Casablanca Valley boasts ideal growing conditions for white wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. With its cool climate and wide temperature variation between day and night, the region is often compared to California’s Sonoma Valley.

Leading the charge among a host of new producers in the area, the Morandé winery was established in 1996 by Pablo Morandé, who had actually planted the first wines in the region back in 1982. Since then, Morandé’s daughter Macarena has danced her way into the chief winemaking position, and is responsible for crafting the winery’s reserve wines. Not afraid the take chances, Macarena Morandé has been experimenting with blending batches of cryogenically frozen grapes into the mix, presumably in an effort to enhance the complexity and depth of flavor.

This week’s featured wine, the Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay ($22 – less in some U.S. states), has an intense golden hue. It almost looks like a dessert wine, which begins to make sense when you consider that about a quarter of the grapes used to make the wine were cryogenically frozen – simulating the icewine-making process. On the nose, aromas of tropical fruit mingle with honey and vanilla, and despite its rich, golden color, there is only a touch of sweetness on the palette, which is easily balanced out by a flinty acidity and citrus notes. The Morandé is a very interesting wine – definitely not your average Sonoma Chard – and worth a try to experience a taste of one of Chile’s most sought-after wine-growing regions. A stylish bottle rounds out the effort.

Quaffability Rating: 89

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“Wine Review: Morandé Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2005 ($22)”