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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

A Tale of Two Chardonnays: From France's Pays d'Oc and California's Russian River Valley #Winophiles

Updated: May 22, 2023

This month the French Winophiles are celebrating Chardonnay Day and the anniversary of the Judgment of Paris which are May 25th and May 24th, respectively. Deanna of Wineivore is hosting. She wrote: "Join the celebration by featuring a French Chardonnay. Or do your own Judgment in [city where you live] by comparing it to an American Chardonnay. Or do your own blind tasting of a French and American wine of your choice, and share your results."

All of the posts will be live between Friday, May 19th and Saturday, May 20th. We will be chatting on Chardonnay Day. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Let's start with this: Chardonnay has never been one of my favorites. I tend to steer clear of this variety because I don't care for the buttery, oaky flavor profiles of many Chardonnays. But I have seen a trend towards crisp, clean Chardonnays that I find fabulous.

For this event, I decided to try Chardonnays from France and California - like the Judgment of Paris.

From France: D'Autrefois 2021 Chardonnay

Hailing from the Pays d'Oc, the IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) for red, white and rosé wines that are made in a large area on the southern coast of France. This is a single varietal, 100% Chardonnay wine. On the nose there are rich tropical aromas of pineapple and guava layered with earthiness of grass and succulents. On the palate those aromas are mirrored with the addition of winter orchard fruits. This wine has a hefty level of acidity that adds lightness to this wine.

From California: River Road 2020 Reserve Un-Oaked Chardonnay

From Sonoma County's Russian River Valley in California, this is also a single varietal made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. This wine bucked that trend of California butter bombs and found a fan base that prefers the fresher, crisper style of an un-oaked Chardonnay. I’m definitely one of those fans. Aged for 4 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks, this wine was both full-bodied and crisp.

On the nose, this wine abounded with lively fruit aromas of peach, apples, pears, and bright citrus. On the palate, the wine was also fruit-laden with apples, pears, peaches, and some summer melons. It has a slight creaminess, but the acidity is sufficiently bright.

I poured both of these wines with a breakfast for dinner: Eggs Benedict and Oven-Roasted Potatoes. The most important part of that is one of the French mother sauces. And if you're curious, we both preferred the Californian Chardonnay as a pairing.

Hollandaise, One of the French Mother Sauces


  • 3 egg yolks

  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice

  • 12 Tablespoons butter, melted

  • freshly ground salt and pepper, as needed

  • hot water, if needed

  • Also needed: double boiler to a bowl that fits snugly in the top of a saucepan


In the top of the double boiler, whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice. Add the melted butter to egg yolk mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time while whisking yolks constantly. If the hollandaise begins to get too thick, add a teaspoon or two of hot water.

Continue whisking until all the butter is incorporated. Whisk in salt and pepper, if needed, then remove from heat. Place a lid on pan to keep sauce warm until ready to serve.

That's a wrap on my May #Winophiles offering. The group will be back in June with wine pairings honoring Normandy and D-Day. Stay tuned!

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May 21, 2023

Love Hollandais sauce and have never tried making my own, thanks for the inspiration.

Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
May 24, 2023
Replying to

It is fairly easy and definitely one of those sauces that I love to have in my arsenal.


Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
May 19, 2023

I'm running behind. Will be doing my tasting later this afternoon and then writing up my post. I am comparing 3 Chards....anxious to see what we prefer.

Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
May 20, 2023
Replying to

I can't wait to read about it. Cheers! Enjoy your tasting.

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