The County Charmes Hogtown – County in the City 2013

The 2011 'the Blessed' Chardonnay from Exultet comes from the opposite end of the County in Milford and it's as different as it gets when compared to the Casa Dea. Owner and winemaker Gerry Spinosa is a believer in barrel fermentation, oak ageing and the ripe flavours that come out of the warmer southeast corner of PEC. Since his inaugural vintage in 2009, that combination has resulted in some of the most acclaimed Chardonnay in the province. Based on this early tasting of his 2011 that tradition should continue. This vintage of 'the Blessed' pulls qualities from the previous two by amalgamating some of the riper, rich texture of the 2010 with the beautiful tension of the 2009. It captivates with ripe flavours of apricot, tangerine and caramelised pear, but there's also a lighter floral aspect with cantaloupe and orange blossom. The wine also has an intriguing spice aspect, which melds wonderfully with the fruit providing nutmeg and that distinct nutty-kernel flavour like when you reach the pit after polishing off a fresh from the farm peach. But the most compelling part is that pitch-perfect texture Spinosa always manages to achieve. Just like a well-made bisque or that perfect cappuccino, it's rich, creamy, comforting and satisfying, but all while managing to stay on the right side of the overly-indulgent line. Helping ensure that is its balancing freshness and subtle, but penetrating wisp of electric County minerality providing some beautiful tension against the rich fruit and the texture. The only downside is the diminutive quantity Spinosa is able to produce in order to get the concentration he demands. Half has already been pre-sold so if this sounds like your kind of Chardonnay phone, email or visit the winery ASAP.

Exultet also poured a 2012 Pinot Gris—its first. Despite sharing a grape variety and vintage, the wines diverge stylistically. The Exultet Gris is a fleshy wine somewhere in texture between an older Riesling and a barrel fermented Chardonnay. It's fragrant and bright with peach, white cherry, juicy honeydew melon, acacia and almond flower notes. The balance between acidity and texture is lovely and should appeal to those who find most Pinot Grigio light. Speaking of which, Spinosa drew on his Italian heritage and called this a Pinot Grigio rather than a Pinot Gris. Much like Shiraz and Syrah both are the same grape just made differently, so are Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. Grigio is usually picked earlier and made in a much lighter, crisper, easy-quaffing style, while Gris tends to be made in a rounder, riper, layered style. The Exultet is most certainly of the latter school and should probably be called as such.

by MIKE DI CARO on JUNE 26, 2013