Clos du Bois is a Californian wine manufacturer who has the stated aim of making wines that taste like they are French. It makes sense. Why fly wines half way around the world when you can make one that tastes just as good locally?
Here’s the thing. I live in Europe, so why would I want to buy an American wine that tastes like a French one? Surely the transportation costs and import duties would push the price of the wine much higher than one that could float over the channel.
Yet here I am in merry old England with a bottle of Clos du Bois Chardonnay North Coast 2012 from Majestic.
The wine is a cheery sunshine yellow. Cheery and sunshine aren’t always words associated with the French, or France, they’re more Californian traits. The wine smells oaky. It’s a curious thing, but it smells of American “Burgundy”. I know, I know, Burgundy comes from France and only France, but allow your mind to float back to mass marketing in the 1980’s. Back then Americans had “domestic Champagne”, white wines were Burgundy, red wines were Bordeaux and the only wine that owned up to being American was embarrassed at the thought – calling itself “blush”.
So, that “American Burgundy” smell, it’s oak mostly along with super ripe fruit and malolactic fermentation. Think toffee apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
The wine is dry, but the fruit is sweet. There’s a medium acidity, but it’s got a lot to stand up to. There’s more oak flavour, toasty – sweet. The fruit is all apple and ripe melon and there’s plenty of it. The alcohol level is at the upper end of medium, and the flavour lasts a long time.
I enjoy this style of Californian Chardonnay once in a while, but I wouldn’t call it French style, to me it’s an all-American experience and no worse for it.
Don’t pay more than £10 for it – otherwise you may as well pick up an actual Burgundy. It’s usually sensibly priced at Majestic if you opt for the online multi-buy deal.