I actually know nothing about aliens and what they might know about Madeira, fortified wines, etc. But since it is Wine Blogging Wednesday #51, I pulled a wine out of my cellar that I had hidden away, out of public view: Rombauer Vineyards – JOY – Late Harvest Chardonnay Carneros. The Rombauers – one of Napa’s royal families – are reknown for their chardonnay. Not to say they don’t do a great job with all they produce, but I loved their Chard even before coming to wine. The JOY is a barrel fermented botrytis Chardonnay that was picked at 45 degrees Brix at harvest, left with over 27% residual sugar and less than 10% alcohol. Does this wine qualify for WBW #51?
Well, it’s not Madeira. However it is oxidized and about as brown as iced tea! Was this intentional? I think not. Should I have kept this bottle for about ten years? Probably not. It looks a lot more like maple syrup than the pale golden nectar I bought well before #43 learned the secrets of Area 51.
It is as viscous as syrup! A beautifully complex nose filled with apricot, hibiscus, almond, honeysuckle, thyme, baked apples, and Meyers lemon peel. The wine explodes on the tongue and coats the mouth like custard on the back of a spoon. Overripe peaches and various nuts lead the flavors but are tempered by shining acids that have held on rather brightly around the honey and butterscotch. As I would hope, a long, long citrusy finish that shows the wine’s Carneros roots.
While this wine – or any late harvest chardonnay – would not be my first selection off of a restaurant list, I do like it. The toffee-brown color frightened me at first. Thoughts of Kaluha and Tia Maria frightened me; they are o.k. in cocktails, but not what I want to have with Foie Gras or stinky Stilton. Nevermind. The Rombauers consistently bring JOY! But next time… I’ll have some Madeira, M’Dear!