Today’s review is of a Sicilian Chardonnay made by excellent Sicilian winemakers Planeta from whom we have previously reviewed their outstanding Nero d’Avola “Santa Cecilia” and their Syrah – specifically, today we are going to review Planeta, Chardonnay Sicilia IGT 2009 ($35).
Will it be in the same league as their wonderful reds? Keep reading and let’s find out together! 🙂
The Bottom Line
Overall: What can I say… a spectacular wine and excellent value for money! A wonderful golden color, a sensuous, complex, multi-layered bouquet that strikes a perfect balance between fruity secondary aromas and delicate tertiary aromas, luscious on the palate with a kaleidoscope of delicious flavors; acidic, tasty and super long. This is a wine that should be tasted by those who are skeptical about Italian whites in general or about Chardonnay’s potential in warmer climates such as Sicily. Oh Man… This is a wine with the “wow” factor!
Rating: Spectacular and, needless to say, wholeheartedly Recommended! – $$
(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)
About the Grape
Chardonnay is a white-berried variety that is indigenous to the French area between Lyon and Dijon, encompassing Burgundy and Champagne. The earliest documented mention of Chardonnay dates back to the late XVII century in the village of Saint Sorlin (today known as La Roche Vineuse) under the name “Chardonnet“, although the variety takes its name from the village of Chardonnay near the town of Uchizy in southern Burgundy.
DNA analysis showed that Chardonnay is a natural cross between Pinot and Gouais Blanc.
Chardonnay Rose is a color mutation of Chardonnay, while Chardonnay Musque’ is a mutation with Muscat-like aromas.
Chardonnay is one of the most versatile and adaptable white grape varieties, which explains in part why it has been so extensively grown all over the world. Chardonnay grapes are generally high in sugar levels and do not have a dominant flavor of their own, so the wines made out of them tend to take on a variety of aromas depending on where the grapes are grown and how the wines are made. Thus Chardonnays run the gamut from subtle and savory to rich and spicy still wines as well as being one of the base wines for Champagne and other Classic Method sparkling wines.
Chardonnay is a typical international variety given how widely it is cultivated on a worldwide basis, from native France, to Italy, North and South America and Australia.
(Information on the grape variety taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012 – for more information about grape varieties in general, check out our Grape Variety Archive)
About the Estate
Planeta’s Chardonnay is made out of grapes coming from the 51 HA Ulmo vineyard and the 42 HA Maroccoli vineyard (the latter situated at 1,475 ft/450 mt above sea level) within Planeta’s Ulmo estate, located near the town of Sambuca di Sicilia (Agrigento), on the western coast of Sicily. The density of the Chardonnay vines in the two vineyards is between 3,800 and 4,500 vines/HA.
Ulmo is the first and the oldest among Planeta’s current estates: it became operational in 1995, along with its winery, and it encompasses 93 HA of vineyards where Chardonnay, Merlot, Grecanico, Nero d’Avola and Syrah are grown to make certain of the wines in the Planeta lineup, including their Chardonnay “supercru“.
Our Detailed Review
The Planeta, Chardonnay Sicilia IGT 2009 that I had was 13.5% ABV and retails in the US for about $35.
The wine was made from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown in Planeta’s Ulmo and Maroccoli vineyards (on which, see above for more information). It fermented for 15 days in French oak barrique barrels (50% new and 50% previously used ones) with the addition of selected yeasts.
As usual, for my review I will use a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting protocol that we described in a previous post: should you have doubts as to any of the terms used below please refer to that post for a refresher.
In the glass, it poured a rich, golden color, thick when swirled.
On the nose, it was intense, delectably complex and excellent, with aromas of banana, melon, grapefruit, lemon, peach, hints of herbs (rosemary), hazelnut and minerals.
In the mouth, the wine was dry, warm, smooth; fresh and tasty. It was full-bodied and masterfully balanced, with intense and excellent mouth flavors of peach, lemon, almond, minerals, herbs and hints of acacia honey. Its finish was exquisitely long and its evolutionary state was ready (i.e., wonderful to enjoy now, but it might be even better, more complex if it rests one or two more years in your cellar).
Great post. I’m going to have to read up on Chardonnay mutations now – really interesting.
Thank you very much for your comment and apologies for the late reply. I also found the topic of Chardonnay mutations extremely interesting. Thanks for stopping by!
There’s some great basic information on Chardonnay in here for beginners Stefano! I never would have guessed that Chardonnay was the base for some sparkling wines. It seems like a very versatile wine. And this particular one must be fantastic because it was deserving of a superb review from you!
Thank you, Heather, and apologies for my late reply. Things have been really hectic recently… Yes, Chardonnay really is a versatile variety and is one of the three base wines for Champagne and other Classic Method sparkling wines. In some cases, Chardonnay is even the only variety that is used to make such wines, as is the case for the so-called Blanc de Blancs sparkling wines.
The Planeta Chardonnay never stops fascinating me with its unique aromatic and flavor palettes. Hope some day you will get to try it for yourself and let me know if you agree with my enthusiastic review! 🙂
Gosh Stefano, that’s a very strong recommendation. I am going to try and track down a bottle here. The price given the quality sounds reasonable. 😉
Enjoy the rest of the week. 😉
Dear B, apologies for my late reply… Yes, I am going all in here, with no reservations! 🙂 I keep being fascinated by the aromatic and flavor palettes of this unique Chardonnay, so very unlike most others that you have tried so far and will taste in the future. And this is so refreshing, considering how “standardized” most Chardonnay has become, which makes things rather boring. Planeta’s Chard spices things up a bit, which in my book is a very good thing! 😉
I really hope that you get to try it and, if you do, I also hope that you will give me your honest opinion about how you liked it. 🙂
Take care, dear B.
I’ve come to trust that your strong recommendations are a must-buy! I will look out for this wine in my local bottleshops and cross my fingers that it gets imported over here 🙂 Sounds delicious. A white wine needs to be reasonably dry and well rounded for me to enjoy it. Rather excited about this one Stefano! 🙂
Thank you so much for your comment, Laura, and apologies for my late reply. I really hope you can find a way to give it a try and let me know what you think. I know that you lean more toward reds, but am hopeful that if you give it a go you will keep an open mind about it! 🙂
PS: I love your new avatar! 🙂