Wine School: ABC - Awesome Bloody Chardonnay!
We focused on Sauvignon Blanc last month, where we tried to illustrate that it was not a one trick Marlborough pony. This month we hope to win hearts & minds with a focus on the wine world's most polarising grape: Chardonnay. Hearts will be easily won with this selection, because to drink Chardonnay is to love it. Winning minds may be more challenging, because to win them we have to change them. This ABC (Awesome Bloody Chardonnay) 6-Pack should do the trick, at €140 it is stunning value too (RRP €182).
Chardonnay, like Sauvignon Blanc is polarising. Unlike Sauv. though, which divides opinion becuase of it's simplicity, Chardonnay is polarising because of it's depth and complexity. While Sauvignon Blanc is distinguished by its really light mouthfeel and racy acidity, Chardonnay announces itself to the palate with a much denser texture, almost viscous and oily at times, instead of racy acidity, there are layers of flavour. The other major difference, is that almost without exception, Sauvignon Blanc is ready to drink, for consumption young and does not see any oak. Chardonnay on the other hand (while it can be consumed young) has huge potention for oak and ageing.
Chardonnay is an incredible chameleon - more than any other white grape. It adapts to its terroir and various wine making techniques with aplomb, be it oak, lee's stirring or extended maturation (though a steel aged Chardonnay can be equally spellbinding as as an oak aged). It is responsible for argueably the most terroir-led wine in the world; Chablis. Chablis, the satellite region of Burgundy, closer to Champagne than Burgundy, produces inimitable Chardonnay due to its distictive Kimmeridgian clay soil type, which contains fossilised sea shells. Indeed, Chablis starts its life in the soil with fossilised sea shells, it should end it's life on the palate with oysters!
ABC - anything but Chardonnay originally came about because of an over reliance on oak and extraction, leading to huge, syrupy, buttery wines. To combat this reputation it then went completely the other direction, producing super-lean and austere Chardonnay (particularly in Australia, where it started to resemble Semillion). Thankfully wine makers are now letting Chardonnay just be Chardonnay.
We've focused on France and America here. From the Languedoc, in its most basic but delicious form, F De Skalli Collection Chardonnay is from Languedoc. More rich and complec from Limoux near Burgundy, Tacherons Chardonnay. Eleonor Moreau Chablis is kimmeridgian-laden Chardonnay from one of the regions most exciting producers. Moving stateside, Folly of the Beast Chardonnay is a rich Chardonnay with a generous but tasteful lick of oak, beautifully integrated. Camp Chardonnay it a colourfully dressed Chardonnay, but lean and stylish from the Central Coast. Finally, from one of America's best Chardonnay prognosticatos, Matthiasson Wines Linda Vista Chardonnay is an earth shattering wine, one of our wines of the year.
As always, we invite you to step out of your comfort zone. These are outstanding wines.
Over 20% off RRP at €140 this is phenomenal value for this class.
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