Skënderbeu Chardonnay – more like a sherry than a wine

Skënderbeu Chardonnay

The dark wine of the Skënderbeu Chardonnay.

Skënderbeu – Chardonnay – Durres – Albania

12% L350 – local shop in Tirana

It was a good job I had a big meal before I went on my search for my second wine in Tirana. The place is am staying has any number of shops close by but getting a bottle of wine is not that easy and had to walk quite a way. But I succeeded.

And it was with pleasure that I saw an Albanian Chardonnay in a little shop that had the biggest selection of Albanian wines that I’ve seen on this trip – might go back there to try something else. I like Chardonnays and, although I didn’t drink it at its recommended temperature, which I don’t (in this case think had any impact on my enjoyment, or otherwise, thought I could at least consider its merits based upon what I know about this white wine variety.

How wrong can you be?

As soon as I poured it out it was different. The Chardonnays I’m used to are normally ‘new world’ which tend to be a light, straw coloured wine, crystal clear and with a fruity aroma. This one has a fairly dark amber colour and although clear resembled more a sherry than a wine in look, and also in smell and taste.

Again I’m trying to understand the wines but falling at each hurdle. If I have any expectations they get challenged as soon as the cork is out of the bottle.

By chance this is also a local wine to Tirana, being grown in the region between the capital city and the principal port of Durrës, about 40 kilometres away.

Speaking to one of the people working in the hostel (who certainly has drunk a number of wines although I don’t think he would call himself a wine expert) this particular winery has been producing good wines for many years. (The dividing line in Albania is before or after 1990, when the political system changed – I’m loathed to call it a revolution. Many factories have just closed down in the intervening years but this business seems to have flourished.)

It is also a little bit more organised than some of the other producers in that there is a website. If you want to check it out click on Kantina Skënderbeu.

Because I didn’t know what to make of this wine I went on their site to see what they said of what they produce, and it seemed that they consider it to be the Chardonnay I’m used to. So going for more information I’m even more confused.

However, it seems that some producers are distributing an oak-aged Chardonnay and this certainly seems to fit into that category. And, after all, the description ‘light’ is relative. I am comparing with the crisp Chardonnays I’ve tried from Chile or New Zealand. They might be comparing with the brandies they also produce.

Had to keep a little over from the night before as I couldn’t get a good photo of the amber colour at night when I had to use the flash so – showing the immediacy of this blog – I’m typing this as I finish the last glass and a half.

At one stage I thought that writing about Albanian wines was becoming to difficult, returning to a more positive approach at the moment and if I run out of untried wines and see the Skënderbeu I might try it again, if only to see whether this bottle is a one-off or whether it’s the norm.

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