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Column: Uniqueness of Chardonnay

The Mavety family launched their Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars in 1991.

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape varietal that produces white wines. It is loved by winemakers because it grows well in a variety of climates and terroirs, has a good yield (produces a lot of grapes per vine) and is fairly neutral in taste.

What is unique about the grape varietal is that since it is a fairly neutral grape varietal, it picks up the flavours and aromas of the terroir and climate where it is grown. Thus, it is a very good grape varietal to express the soil and terroir of each specific location.

Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light-bodied with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plums, apple and pear.

In warmer locations, such as the Adelaide Hills in Australia and the Marlborough region of New Zealand, the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations, such as the Central Coast of California, more fig and tropical fruit notes like banana and mango come out.

Many winemakers use a process called malolactic fermentation to make Chardonnay wines have a buttery mouthfeel. 

The Chardonnay grape is also a key component of sparkling wines and Champagnes because of the acidity of the grape and the neutral nature of the grape varietal.  

Since Chardonnay grows in a variety of climates, it makes sense that B.C. would also be a good place to grow Chardonnay grapes. 

One of the best Chardonnay producers in B.C. is Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars in the South Okanagan. It was established and is still operated by the Mavety family. Founders Ian and Jane Mavety acquired the property in 1971 and sold grapes to other wineries to produce wine. 

They originally grew Germanic grape varietals but soon realized the potential of the South Okanagan region.  They resisted the trend of planting Bordeaux grape varietals in favour of Burgundy grape varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

In 1991, the Mavety family launched the winery and have since created a cult-like wine following. 

In recent years, Ian and Jane have passed on the management of the winery to their children, Matt and Christie Mavety.  Matt is the winemaker while Christie is in charge of sales and marketing.

What I like about this winery is they have been consistent with their wine-making style and the grape varieties they grow. 

In addition, they have not exponentially increased prices so their wines still provide excellent value.

All of their wines are very good but I think their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines excel and are some of the best that B.C. has to offer. 

Their current release is the 2022 Chardonnay which is reasonably priced at $29.90. 

The grapes come from 16 to 33-year-old vines with all fruits hand-harvested and whole cluster pressed.

The wine is then barrel fermented and aged for 14 months in new to 3-year-old French oak barrels. I found this wine slightly oaked with citrus and peach flavours and a minerally aftertaste.

Blue Mountain will be releasing their reserve Chardonnay in September, again at a reasonable price of $39.90.

The winery also has plans to release two single vineyard Chardonnays in the fall. Blue Mountain did this with their Pinot Noir offerings and I was amazed at how single vineyard offerings with different climates, soils and terroir could taste so different and distinctive.

Unfortunately, Blue Mountain wines can only be found either at specialty stores or ordered directly from the winery.  For more information about their wines, please visit their website.

Until next time, happy drinking!

Tony Kwan is a Richmond News columnist. Lawyer by day, and a food and wine lover by night. Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.