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Blackstone Chardonnay & A Thanksgiving Possibility
By Chelle Christy

Well, it has been a few weeks since my last review but I am back! If you were wondering where I have been, the answer is, on island. However, my attentions were momentarily diverted to one of the biggest sporting events on Guam's calendar each year - the Micronesian Cup Outrigger Canoe Championships. The championships, run by our very own Outrigger Guam Canoe Club, took place over the weekend of the 26th - 27th October and were an outstanding success. Teams from Palau, Saipan, Hong Kong, China, Australia, Japan and, of course, Guam competed fiercely in both sprint and long distance events. I was lucky to be selected to paddle in one of the local teams, Man Hita. Now that the championships are over, I am resting my tired muscles, treating myself to a glass of the fabulous Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 after a months hiatus, and getting back into the swing of wine tasting and writing.

The latest on our list of wines to review (of course they must be available here on Guam) are two lovely examples of Napa Valley wines from the stables of the Blackstone Winery: Blackstone Chardonnay Monterey County 2000 and Blackstone 2000 Napa Valley Merlot. Both of these wines were featured as part of the September 2002 wine dinner at Old Hagatna Grill, so they may be familiar to some already.

Blackstone Chardonnay Monterey County 2000

Chardonnay became the 'flavor of the month' a while back, and the market seemed to be flooded with the fantastic, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. It seemed everyone was producing chardonnay. If the wine wasn't quite right it was often heavily oaked (usually using oak chips rather than barrels) almost, it seemed, in an attempt to mask the flavor of the wine itself. Happily, I can tell you, the Blackstone Chardonnay Monterey County 2000 is neither 'over oaked' nor lacking in flavor or complexity. In fact, it is downright scrumptious!

On decanting the wine, the characteristic green/yellow color brings with it the wonderful bouquet of lush tropical fruits such as pineapple and papaya, and distinctive floral aromas. Although light (12.5% alcohol content), this wine still maintains complexity. This may be, in part, due to the makeup of the wine: 89% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Blanc and up to 2% Malvasia bianca. The sweetness of the pineapple is balanced admirably with the slight tartness of nectarine, apple and peach. The fermenting process, known as malo-lactic fermentation, produces a smooth, silky mouth-feel and evokes the taste of coconut or vanilla. All these components meld together to create a surprisingly rich and pleasant finish.

This easy to drink chardonnay is just perfect with a light pasta or caesar salad, or perhaps stuffed mushrooms or a lovely fruit and cheese plate. Drink now or within a couple of years.

Blackstone 2000 Napa Valley Merlot

The key to Blackstone 2000 Napa Valley Merlot is the use of grapes from several Napa Valley vineyards. Combining grapes from different areas intensifies certain characteristics and combines all the great aspects, such as microclimate, rocky soils and optimal temperatures, which are considered ideal for producing great Merlot.

This rich purple/red hued wine has attractive and rather complex aromas of oak, vanilla, berries and spice. The creamy texture is a product of the crushing and cold soak technique that lasts for about three days before the grapes are pressed. The complexity of the bouquet continues through the palate, which is dominated by berry (particularly blueberry) and a myriad of rich fruits. The wine integrates the fruit components well with substantial yet subtle oak and a slight peppery finish. Even the tannins can be described as firm yet not overpowering. The finish is particularly long and luscious and the wine could easily be cellared for at least 4 years. All in all this is a well-balanced, elegant wine, well deserving of a scrumptious roast turkey - just in time for Thanksgiving!


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