Liberty School Chardonnay, Paso Robles, Central Coast, USA

Liberty School is part of the Hope Family wines, arguably the biggest name in the Paso Robles wine region of California. Their 2008 Chardonnay is a refreshingly humble California Chard. Perhaps a little pale looking in the glass, the wine smells of clean topsoil, not that dusty dry smell extra-dry chards tickle your nose with. The taste and texture are where you appreciate the humble qualities of this wine. You get fruit flavours with the intensity of a perhaps a pinot or sauvignon blanc, expressed with classical chardonnay characteristics – without covering the juice behind excessive dryness. Hat’s off to them for letting the simple notes from this wine linger. I think with the crisp and clean juice flavours coexisting with some reasonably dry wine, you get the impression that wood does have a place in the making of a chardonnay. Maybe all those oak-free chards hitting the market might not be necessary after all.

Musical Match: I always laugh at how many wine and music matches use Norah Jones and/or smooth saxophone jazz. This wine makes a strong case for the smooth sax jazz. With some twists, like piano by Thelonious Monk thrown in. The notes can have some sharpness, are mostly smoothed out and when it is done right those lingering notes say so much. Sonny Rollins with “Poor Butterfly.”  Smooth and for the most part mid-tempo, this piece is definitely not syrupy.

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