Price Range : $12 - 14
Region: Roussillon, France Ready to Drink: Immediately upon release
There’s an ingrained perception—and no one could be blamed for subscribing to the belief—that the only French Chardonnay worth drinking is expensive French Chardonnay.
So, you have to hand it to Eric Solomon Selections at importer European Cellars for having the balls to put the NOVELLUM Chardonnay on the market. This 13-dollar bottle goes against the grain of hard-to-remember, hard-to-pronounce vaunted French Chardonnays such as Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Pouilly-Fuissé and Corton-Charlemagne which easily retail at $50 and above to $500 and below.
From the Roussillon region, the 2016 bottling may not have the rarified complexity of its Burgundian siblings, but it does possess plenty of the classic traits of French-style Chardonnay. Interestingly, the Novellum is not what it seems on the surface. From its hue of very pale straw and nose of citrus blossom, quince, lemon zest, chamomile and sea salt, you might expect a wine that’s light and quaint. However, on the palate there’s surprising luxuriousness, viscosity and depth of flavor. Notes of gala apple, tangerine and vanilla emerge. On the finish, one enjoys the chalky texture that adds complexity.
You expect delicate, but the Chardonnay’s inner strength surprises. In other words, a shockingly layered wine for the price. I won’t abandon my Corton-Charlemagne anytime soon, but an everyday Chardonnay doesn’t get any better than this. –J.M.