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Time to resurrect our love affair with Chardonnay
It is said that every dog has its day and it seems there is a trend for every grape to have its day too. It was Malbec World Day last month and next Saturday marks the third anniversary of World Chardonnay Day.
This is an ideal opportunity for me, since I promised a few weeks back, to dedicate an entire column to chardonnay. It could be seen as the Barbour jacket of wine: a grape that has fallen out of fashion and then come back in again. Available in many styles, from sweet to bone dry and from the bargain basement to Burgundy’s best, chardonnay has a claim to being the greatest white grape of all.
This week I’ve pushed the boat out for a special occasion oak-aged chardonnay, with enough about it to match up to roast chicken or even pork. If you don’t like woody whites then look away now, although the influence in these wines is quite subtle.
I’ve steered clear from Burgundy which doesn’t often deliver much below the £20 mark. All three choices this week hail from the Antipodes. You can forget the headache-inducing Aussie chardonnay of old and don’t assume that the only white wine the Kiwis produce is sauvignon blanc.
Wirra Wirra The 12th Man Chardonnay, from vineyards in the Adelaide Hills region, is well balanced, with a zesty acidity. It has hints of hazelnut, from oak aging, and luscious fruit flavours, think lemons, limes and tropical, with mineral notes on the finish.
An excellent choice, from the Margaret River region of Western Oz, is Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2010. It is concentrated but not heavy, with toasty notes from perfectly integrated French oak and long fresh flavours of peach, lemon, lime and honey.
Or head to the Marlborough region of New Zealand and Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay 2008. This wine has everything in balance too. It is complex, with spices, minerals, smoky oak and very long flavours of tropical and orchard fruit.
• Wirra Wirra The 12th Man Chardonnay 2011, Adelaide Hills, £16.99 from Ocado 17/20
• Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2010, Margaret River, £10.99 (when you buy two) at Majestic 19/20
• Jackson Estate Shelter Belt Chardonnay 2008, Marlborough, £16.99 from Ocado and Waitrose Wine Direct 17/20