France vs California Chardonnay? Comparing Napa vs Burgundy Wine

By Brian Lemay 9 comments

Hello, bonjour! This is Julien, the French
wine making guy who makes wine videos… here on YouTube. Yes, wine videos, and
today is going to be a very interesting tasting for me. I’m going to be
comparing with you 2 very different types of Chardonnay wines. I’m going to
be opposing a French Chablis, French Chardonnay from Burgundy, a
Chablis in a style that is supposedly not very oaky at all, very pure
expression of the Chardonnay grape with Rombauer vineyards Chardonnay from the Carneros. A wine that is renowned for being the archetypal oaky Chardonnay
style from California. I’ve actually never tasted Rombauer before. For
reminder I am French so I mainly taste chardonnays from Burgundy we don’t get a
lot of US Chardonnays here. I’m quite excited to taste
Rombauer with you and give you my impressions on what it tastes like. Is it
good? Is it oaky? Well, we’ll find out very very soon
yes if you’ve been wondering this video this video theme has been inspired a
little bit by what Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly does really well on her
channel comparing wines from the new world with wines from the old world and
see what are the key differences. How do those wines talk to your taste buds,
your palate, how do they come through when you get to taste them. Well
let’s dig into it and let’s dig into this so here I do have a Vieilles Vignes Chablis so
old vines from Chablis in the heart of Burgundy as you know that has this very
specific terroir that is called the Kimmeridgian which is ancient marine
sediments which normally gives Chablis this minerality, this zinginess, this
precision in the fruit expression in the wine expression. On my left is Rombauer Vineyards 2018. Those are both 2018s so we’re not comparing different vintages same
age about one and a half year old wines from the Carneros south of the Napa
Valley, Sonoma by the San Pablo Bay. A wine that is supposedly very very oaky
so how do those two wines compare let’s take into the Chablis first. So this is
simple Chablis, no Grand Cru, no Premier Cru, kind of your everyday Chablis, one that
you could find for I’d say probably $20 maybe $25 in the US and I suspect, Rombauer I think is around $20-$25. So it’s all of the same range.
See how those two compare. So first off, if we have a look at the color well they
are both quite you know lemon yellow quite bright very zingy very shiny both
a little bit golden we’re not dealing here with green white wines, we’re not
dealing with Sauvignon Blancs or other types of very crisp white wines, we’re
definitely dealing with chardonnays here with perhaps a little bit of oxidation
on both sides even though the Rombauer . I can already tell has more golden amber
slightly amber hues to it the addition of you know the oaky character that
infuses a little bit of color from the toasted oak that goes into the wine and
also aging in bow oxidizes the wine, a little bit more so it evolves it makes
the color evolve a little bit more than in Chablis which I’m not exactly sure
what is the oak treatment on this one but in Chablis they tend to either use
old barrels that don’t infuse as much color to the wines or the aged part of
the wines in stainless steel tanks. So it is quite obvious just by looking at the
wines but let’s take into the friend Chablis and what it smells like. So yes we are having a bit of a refined
aromatic expression here it’s got some blossoms it’s quite floral there’s hints
of lemon fresh lemon coming through to the nose, a little bit of butter but it’s
very very delicate, it’s a little bit of brioche, a little bit like when you smell
a champagne actually, you’re getting this little brioche so I suspect this
wine has been aged on its lees because you get this leesy goodness, yeasty
goodness, coming through even to the nose. Let’s dig into what it tastes like what shine through is the acidity which
drives the explosion of a really fresh freshly squeezed lemon on the palate
it’s very fresh it’s very vibrant it’s quite floral as well not any oak coming
through maybe yes this brioche and butter coming through but it’s subtle
its elegant we are talking more about citrus fruit expressions here maybe
touches of little tropical characters but they’re very very discreet here.
Let’s gid into how Rombauer compares against it. So deeper color oh wow!
and yes it does smell very very oaky. Oh my god! Getting a lot of smokiness lots
of wood ashes wood smoke you can tell that the bounce that this wine has gone
through would have been rather deeply darkly toasted in this case a lot of
vanilla a lot of coconut kind of bourbon whiskey-like kind of smell. You’re getting quite a
lot of butter like yeah this is your really buttery bake. Very very buttery!
If you dig a little bit further, swirling the wine. Yes! The fruit comes through but
we are dealing here with more of a jammy lemon, like a lemon marmalade if we are
to find a little bit of lemon here, a bit of orange zest or confit orange. So definitely you on the riper side of the citrus fruit characters and
they are definitely a lot a big burst of tropical fruits the really ripe mango,
juicy mango aromas come through in this wine, a little bit of really ripe
pineapple as well. So while here we are on the very fresh zingy citrus fruit
here we are more in the tropical opulent style but let’s dig into what Rombauer
tastes like yeah so I mean there’s this huge enormous oily body surrounding it
and coating your palate in your taste buds. This is so generous so oily right
out you can actually see it but these Rombauer has a lot of legs that just
keep going up and down and up and down and I can’t see any on the Burgundy. I
can feel the alcohol you know warming up my palate quite a lot in the Rombauer.
What do they say about the alcohol percentage? We are on 14.5 on the
California chardonnay and on 12.5 on the burgundy Chardonnay. Wow!
2% it’s huge and you can definitely tell just looking at the legs of the wines
and you can also definitely feel that this is warm this feels who this is it
feels like it’s going to get you you know it’s going to affect not only your
taste buds but your nerve system quite a lot faster with this as well a huge
explosion of oak huge burst of vanilla loads of burnt dark caramel,
explosion the coconut, the bourbon, yeah it almost tastes like you’re tasting a
bourbon whisky but it’s a really much more concentrated in terms of flavor
intensity so just look load more in you know heavy intense on your taste buds
but I quite like it there’s still acidity shine through so similar styles
of wines but yeah the French style is certainly a lot more subtle a lot more
elegant so which one is best I think the Rombauer actually quite
liked it for the style that it is it’s actually quite precise but it’s begging
heavy the Chablis gets all these little delicate blossoms delicate citrus so I
think you could sip and go back to the burgundy Chardonnay a little bit more
because it’s got less alcohol and also because you are getting more subtleties
that you can sort of analyze and enjoy and get back to this is also going to be
a much more at least from my humble French perspective, this is probably
also going to be a much more food-friendly wine, much more versatile,
because it’s going to stay quite discreet on the background while you
tasting your food and your wine it’s gonna add a little bit of citrusy or
zinginess, a bit like squeezing some lemon on your
fish dish, while the Rombauer is going to be big and overwhelming so this is
certainly more for powerful dishes, your barbecues, your grilled meats and your very
fatty opulent dishes, because it’s got so much flavor intensity.
While the Chablis is more for refined foods the sort of French restaurant
delicate type of cuisines, which kind of makes sense, they made for different
palates and different types of foods as well. Wow!
Very very interesting tasting experience you know put those two styles side by
side do yourself run yourself your own Judgment of Paris to decide which one
you actually prefer and like best. I think I like them both, but yeah, you
could explore with Chablis you can see how you could probably explore the
variety the diversity of Chardonnay wines and Chardonnay terroirs, between
Chablis, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, much deeper because
the subtlety is you’re going to be able to perceive the subtleties in style the
subtleties in terroir a lot better in a wine that is more discreet more you know
flatter in its expression where you’ve got all these tiny little peeks of
aromas and flavors while this is just a… huge explosion of flavors on your palate.
So I mean, the world of wine is diverse and that’s how we love it! I hope you
enjoyed this video and I will see you soon with our next video where I will be comparing very soon Sauvignon Blancs from France with
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand… I hope you enjoyed this video, if you did, let me know in the comments, give this video a quick thumbs up. If you didn’t
like it well let me know why! Maybe give it a dislike but let me know why.
I will see you soon in the wonderful world of wine… Au revoir!
Bye bye… Cheers! Santé.


Isabel AB

Nov 11, 2019, 1:25 pm Reply

Great video…very informative. I spent much of my youth saying no to oak…and I have always thought Chardonnays made for such a tough pairing…for me only with foods that complement. I totally agree that the wine styles suit the palate of the area they are from…something that I have always used for pairing food and wine…foods and wines from the same region tend to make for inspired easy pairings 🍷

Beth d’Aquin

Nov 11, 2019, 2:06 pm Reply

Terrific info….the taste comparisons from different areas of the world is very interesting to me. Although i know generally about the differences it’s good to hear the and confirm that info from a pro

Beth d’Aquin

Nov 11, 2019, 2:08 pm Reply

Julien – your subscribers are gathering speed……last i noticed it was at 3K

J Caff

Nov 11, 2019, 3:03 pm Reply

California is making more un-oaked chards, a reaction to the heavy lumber style. I stopped drinking chards because of too heavy oak. Thanks for the video.

Chefs backyard

Nov 11, 2019, 3:19 pm Reply

rombauer is definitely a big chardonnay. I will need to go try it again soon. I recently attended a french wine education.
tasted the 2017 Domaine LaRoche Chablis Saint martin.
domaine marot burgogne chardonnay. and I really enjoyed the 2016 Les Tourelles de la Crée Montagny Blanc Premier Cru.
I enjoy your videos, thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion! cheers

Carrie Garczynski

Nov 11, 2019, 12:50 am Reply

Love your comparison videos!!


Nov 11, 2019, 6:19 pm Reply

Thanks for posting..
Merci bien

Julie V

Dec 12, 2019, 3:04 pm Reply

It's funny how our tastes vary. I used to love crisp fresh Riesling, now I enjoy the rich, buttery Chardonnays. I'll try both! Merci Beaucoup


Feb 2, 2020, 8:02 am Reply

Funny thing is that rombauer runs for $40🤪retail

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