The 2009 Domaine de Gournier is 100% Estate grown Chardonnay located in the hills overlooking the town of Nimes in the Rhone Valley, but outside the borders of the Costieres de Nimes AOC. Since this was not grown inside a AOC designated growing area, the wine is referred to as a Vin de Pays des Cevennes (translates to “country wine” from Cevennes), which back in the day was mostly wines grown and consumed at the closest village. The AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) have strict controls on the likes of Bordeaux or Burgundy, but Vin de Pays wines have relative freedom. Therefore, The Domaine de Gournier has Chardonnay written boldly on the front label. 60% of the Chardonnay is aged for 6 months, on lees, in new French oak barrels. “On Lees” means that the dead yeast and grape residue are left in the wine during aging, it imparts a nutty taste and adds depth. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is butter yellow, clear and shiny. The nose is honey and grapefruit, apple and butter, dried mango and vanilla. This is definitely an oaked chardonnay, buttery pear upfront followed by honey and apple, smooth rounded fruit flavors and then the unoaked fruit kicks in. Lemon and lime, tangerine, the combination of the buttery, honeyed fruit and the citrus is really tasty. The finish is light but lingers for a while.
The 2009 Domaine de Gournier Chardonnay is a bargain (I found it for $8.99), Estate grown fruit, new French oak barrels at a price where most of the competition features grapes bought on the open market and if oak is used they throw oak chips (the call it mulch around here) into the fermenting tanks and the Domaine de Gournier is from France. I know oaked Chardonnay is not the flavor of the month and in the past I was a unoaked Chard guy, but lately the oak/unoaked Chardonnay blends are really doing it for me. An inexpensive Chardonnay with a little depth and a lot of flavor is a very good thing.