Oct 4, 2009

And now, the best Chardonnay in the world is...

This next statement will surely raise eyebrows from serious wine enthusiasts and wine snobs alike - The 2005 Wyncroft "Avonlea" Chardonnay is the best chardonnay I have ever tasted! Hands down!

Let me qualify myself by saying that I am not a master sommelier nor do I have the human powers to detect every fruit and mineral in wine. But I know more about wine than the average wine consumer. I can differentiate the nose of most grape varieties and I have a good enough grasp on wines to discuss it with the snobs. Yes, I can swirl my wine glass like the pros. I've had my share of phenomenal California and Burgundian chardonnays. I will never decline a taste of a Puligny-Montrachet. I love the 1986 Grgich Hills and William Hill chardonnay, and in my pantry, I have a bottle of Far Niente (very good wine but overrated). I have a food and beverage background in hospitality, and to this day, is a strong advocate for the enjoyment of wines.

Last week, JW Marriott executive chef, Andrew Voss, arranged a tasting of Wyncroft wines with the boutique winery's founder and winemaker, Jim Lester. I get invited to these tastings quite often, and  as a courtesy to the chef, I accepted his invitation. Wyncroft wines are available at only select restaurants such as Charlie Trotter's and Alinea in Chicago. The wines are not available through wine vendors nor retail stores. You can purchase Mr. Lester's wines only through his mailing list.

Jim Lester's story parallels that of Chateau Montelena's Jim Barrett, whose quest for a world-class chardonnay, eventually shocked the wine world when his 1973 chardonnay topped the best French burgundies in the now famed 1976 wine tasting  in Paris. He has no desire to run a large winery. He simply wants to produce the best wines in the world. He is the founder, the owner, the marketer and the truck driver. He started Wyncroft in 1998 with his wife, who unfortunately, passed away.

"Avonlea" is a ten acre precious plot of land located just ten miles off the coast.  Five acres are dedicated to chardonnay vines and the remaining areas are for pinot noir, riesling and cabernet sauvignon.

During our tasting, I discovered that Jim Lester was also the winemaker for another beautiful chardonnay that I recall tasting in 1992, Madron Lakes chardonnay. Madron Lakes went bankrupt and after the lessons learned from his first venture, he started Wyncroft winery with the intent of keeping it small and under his family's control.

Jim poured the wine, I admired the golden color, swirled the wine inside my glass and took a whiff of the most fascinating butterscotch nose I have ever encountered. I glanced at chef Andrew and he gave me the same bewildered look as if we have just uncovered the world's greatest secret. I prepped myself for the big buttery taste, and too my surprise, the wine's butter taste didn't overwhelm the oak and minerals present in the wine. The wine was soft with a pleasant finish. It had the nose of a big California chardonnay but the taste of very fine Puligny-Montrachet. Jackpot!

I'm sure you are wondering why I haven't revealed the appellation of Wycroft wines. Well folks, Wyncroft is located 10 miles off the Lake Michigan shoreline in Buchanan, Michigan! World-class wine in Michigan has finally arrived.


Ben Harrison said...

Thanks for the insight ... We're definitely going to have to check out wyncroft wines ... I definitely agree that Michigan will soon be on the map for world class wines! Did you know that the climate & terrior in southwest, mi makes it the 3rd best region I'm the US to grow grapes, just behind CA & OR?

My Hotel Life said...

We'll have it available at the JW in November. Thanks for the input.

Joel Goldberg said...

The wine can also be purchased from the winery's website -- www.wyncroftwine.com. Jim Lester advised me that less than 25 cases remain.