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写在加州夏当尼品鉴之前(California Chardonnay)

作者:Steve Heimoff   译者:Steven YUAN

在准备这个周的夏当尼座谈会的时候,我发现一个现象:上世纪60年代以来,这个品种在加州的种植面积急剧增长,尤其是上世纪90年以后,大有燎原之势。

40年前,加州很少种植夏当尼,但是今天已经遍布各处,从塞拉山麓(Sierra Foothills),广袤的中央山谷(Central Valley),到温暖的内陆山谷,几乎在所有能够看得到太平洋的地方。夏当尼葡萄容易种植,产量较高,因此酒庄都喜欢种植。而且,夏当尼还是美国销量No.1的葡萄酒,所以不愁销售,几乎可以自动进入消费者的胃里。

去年,加州大约有93,153英亩的夏当尼,是所有葡萄品种中种植面积最广的;这一种植面积超过所有白葡萄品种种植面积的一半多(位列第二的是法国品种:鸽笼白Colombard,我怀疑有很多商标表明Chardonnay的实际上含有24%左右的这个劣等品种)。

加州的哪个地区种植最多呢?幸运的是,大多数都沿着海岸线种植,纳帕谷(Napa Valley,可能大部分在卡内罗斯Carneros)、索诺玛(Sonoma)、蒙特利(Monterey)、圣·路易斯·奥比斯波(San Luis Obispo)和圣芭芭拉(Santa Barbara)。中央山谷的圣华金(San Joaquin)、斯坦尼斯洛斯(Stanislaus)、福勒斯诺(Fresno)、默塞德(Merced)也能发现性价比不错的夏当尼,但是其余大部分都是便宜的一般品质的葡萄酒,很多都是大桶装或者按箱销售。

后者(指刚刚提到的便宜的一般品质的)使用的葡萄园产量一般都非常高,因此葡萄品质较低,出产的夏当尼往往都比较寡淡,但是也有一些夏当尼典型的果味(桃子、梨子),最后这些生产商会大量使用橡木或者类似橡木的物质来产生黄油吐司和焦糖香气和风味,以使消费者产生高质量的错觉。

就是这些酒给夏当尼带来了坏名声,但这是不公平的,就像以最为普通的勃艮第大区级葡萄酒、马孔村葡萄酒(Macon-Villages)和一般的夏布利葡萄酒Chablis appellations)的印象来评价勃艮第白葡萄酒一样。要了解更好的勃艮第,你必须要转向更小的更著名的产区:蒙哈榭(Montrachet,或者:夏莎妮Chassagne-Montrachet,巴塔赫Batard-Montrachet,皮里尼Puligny-Montrachet),高赫桐·莎勒曼妮(Corton-Charlemagne),夏布利特级园(Grand Cru Chablis),麦赫索(Meursault)等等。即使是这些产区或者葡萄园,酿酒商也非常关键,像勒夫莱伍(Leflaive,Domaine and Olivier)、路易亚都(Louis Jadot)和文森·加哈赫丹(Vincent Girardin)都是不错的酿酒商。

CA

加州的情况完全相同。90%的加州夏当尼都很平凡,而且无聊,而且开瓶一会儿味道就会失去,但是这和世界上其他地区是一样的。如果要想品质好一些的,你就必须前往海岸附近的葡萄园(与中央山谷对应),(这些葡萄园)总体上,离海岸线越近的产区,葡萄酒的酸度更高、钢铁感更强,而且有更多的矿物质味道——更“夏布利化(Chablisian)”;离内陆越近的产区(亚历山大谷南段是个典型例子,Alexander Valley位于索诺玛Sonoma境内),葡萄酒果味更为成熟,更为华丽。年份同样是一个很重要的因素:寒冷年份可能靠近内陆的葡萄园产的葡萄酒更好,而温暖年份则靠近海岸的更好,另外,海拔、朝向、葡萄园物理属性以及葡萄园的管理等都有影响。总体上,你可以把离海岸线20英里左右作为加州夏当尼的甜区(Sweet Spot),即使你是ABC,也应该知道这是世界上最好的夏当尼产地之一。

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As I prepare to moderate the panel this week at The Chardonnay Symposium, I find myself thinking about this white wine, its phenomenal rise in popularity since the 1960s, and the fierce attack it’s come under, especially from the 1990s up to this day.

Forty years ago, there was very little Chardonnay planted in California, but today it’s grown virtually everywhere, from the Sierra Foothills, across the vast central Valley to the warmer inland valleys of the coast, all the way out to within sight of the Pacific Ocean. It is an easy plant to cultivate and a high producer, which is why wineries like to grow it. And, of course, Chardonnay is the #1 wine in America, meaning that its high production is almost automatically absorbed into the distribution system, and from there into the stomachs of wine drinkers.

Last year, there were 93,153 acres of Chardonnay planted in California, making it the most widely grown of any variety in the state, red or white; and those acres accounted for more than half of all white varieties (the runner-up, alas, being French Columbard; and I wonder how many varietally-labeled “Chardonnays” contain up to 24% of that inferior variety).

Where in the state is most of this Chardonnay grown? Fortunately, the majority is along the coast, in the counties of Napa (presumably mostly in the Carneros), Sonoma, , Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. A good deal also can be found in the Central Valley counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Fresno and Merced, but again, the presumption must be that most of that goes into inexpensive California-appellated Chardonnays, many of them in jugs and boxes.

Of this latter group, of course a lot is plonk. The vines are made to yield very high tonnages of grapes; the resulting wines are thin, but have enough Chardonnay taste (peaches, pears) to get by, and of course the wineries then slather oak, or oak-like, substances upon them, to give the buttered toast and caramel aromas and flavors consumers think come from the grape.

It is often these wines that have been responsible for giving Chardonnay its bad reputation, but that is an irresponsible position to take. It’s as bad as if you defined white Burgundy only by the lesser, often mass-produced Chardonnays from the most basic Bourgogne, Macon-Villages and Chablis appellations.

To step up in quality in Burgundy you have to turn to the smaller prestige appellations: the Montrachets (Chassagne, Batard and Puligny), Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru Chablis, Meursault and the like. And even there, the producer is key, with names like Leflaive (Domaine and Olivier), Louis Jadot and Vincent Girardin often guaranteeing the highest Chardonnay character.

The situation in California is exactly the same. Ninety percent of California Chardonnays may well be boring or mediocre, or may pall after a sip or two, but that’s always the way it is in big appellations the world over. You have to head for the coast for the good stuff. In general, the further you get towards the Pacific, the more the wines turn steely, acidic and minerally–more “Chablisian” if you will. And the more the grapes come from the warmer inland valleys–the southern part of the Alexander Valley is a great example–the riper and more opulent the wines become. Vintage, too, plays a key role: Chilly vintages may favor the inland valleys, warmer ones the coast: but so much depends on the elevation, orientation and physical characteristics of the vineyard and diligence of viticulture. In general, you can think of the twenty or so miles from the beaches (or close to them) inland as the oscillating sweet spot for California Chardonnay, which despite the ABCers must be counted among the world’s greatest white wines.

原文地址:Before the Chardonnay Symposium, some thoughts on the ABC crowd

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