Disclaimer: this review is of samples that I received from the producer’s US importer. My review has been conducted in compliance with my Samples Policy and the ISA wine tasting protocol and the opinions I am going to share on the wines are my own.
Today we are going to review two Chardonnays from the northern Italian region of Piemonte, made by Italian producer Coppo.
About the Grape
A few notions about Chardonnay as a grape variety, that you can also find on our Grape Variety Archive page, along with several other varieties that we have previously reviewed.
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.
As always, this grape variety information is taken from the excellent guide Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012.
About the Producer and the Estate
You may find information regarding the producer, Coppo, and the estate in the first post of this series of reviews of the Coppo lineup.
The Coppo lineup comprises three Chardonnays: beside the top of the line Riserva della Famiglia (which is currently not available in the US), Coppo makes the mid-range Monteriolo and the entry-level Costebianche, both of which we are going to review today.
As usual, for my reviews 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.
1. Coppo, Chardonnay “Monteriolo” ($60)
The first wine that we are going to review is Coppo, Chardonnay “Monteriolo” Piemonte DOC 2007.
1.1 The Bottom Line
Overall, the Monteriolo was a good, solid “gently-oaked” Chardonnay. Both its bouquet and mouth flavors are pleasant and “clean”, if just a tad subdued, presenting a nice balance between secondary and tertiary aromas. In my view, however, the $60 suggested retail price is pretty steep and makes the Monteriolo face tough competition in the premium Chardonnay market segment.
Rating: Good to Very Good – $$$
(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)
1.2 Detailed Information
The 2007 Monteriolo was 12.5% ABV and was made out of 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from Coppo’s vineyards near the town of Canelli, Piemonte.
The must fermented for about 12/15 days at 59F/15C in stainless steel vessels. The wine then rested for nine months in 50% new and 50% previously used French oak barrique casks, plus eight additional months in bottle before becoming available for sale. The Monteriolo has a suggested retail price in the US of $60, but can be found for retail prices in the neighborhood of $50.
Let’s now see how the Monteriolo performed in our tasting.
In the glass, the wine poured golden yellow and quite thick when swirled.
On the nose, the bouquet was quite intense, quite complex and fine, with aromas of citrus, apple, herbs, and hints of butter, vanilla and roasted hazelnut.
In the mouth, the wine was dry, quite warm, smooth; fresh and quite tasty. It was balanced and medium-bodied, with quite intense and fine mouth flavors of citrus, apple, butter, and hints of vanilla and roasted hazelnut. The finish was quite long and the evolutionary state was ready (meaning, fine to drink now, but may improve with one or two years of cellaring).
2. Coppo, Chardonnay “Costebianche” ($20)
The second wine that we are going to review is Coppo, Chardonnay “Costebianche” Piemonte DOC 2010.
2.1 The Bottom Line
Overall, the Costebianche was a pretty good Chardonnay. Its bouquet is pleasant, although a bit narrow and veered toward tertiary aromas, those that develop with oak aging, that in this case tended to be dominant over the fruity aromas. Also, I found the Costebianche a little “thin” in the mouth – I wished it had a little more body (this feeling is confirmed by its quite low ABV and glycerol levels, which both contribute to determine the structure of a wine). All in all, a fairly good, if a bit “soulless”, wine.
Rating: Fairly Good – $
(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)
2.2 Detailed Information
The 2010 Costebianche was 12% ABV and was made out of 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from Coppo’s vineyards near the towns of Canelli and Aglianico.
The wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation and then six months of aging, during which 70% of the wine rested in French oak barrique casks and the remaining 30% in steel vats, plus six additional months in bottle before becoming available for sale. In the US the Costebianche has a suggested retail price of about $20.
Let’s see how the Costebianche did in our tasting.
In the glass, the wine poured straw yellow with greenish hints and quite thick when swirled.
On the nose, the bouquet was intense, fairly narrow and quite fine, with aromas of Granny Smith apple, roasted hazelnut, and butter.
In the mouth, the wine was dry, quite warm, quite smooth; fresh and tasty. It was balanced and light-bodied, with intense and fine mouth flavors of citrus, Granny Smith apple, roasted hazelnut, butter, and wild herbs. The finish was quite long and the evolutionary state was ready.