Celebrate with seven corking Chardonnays

This week Times Drinks Editor James Viner raises a glass to International Chardonnay Day, which this year is celebrated on Thursday May 25…

More neutral in aroma and flavour than aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, the early budding, early ripening (making it suitable to grow in a cool region) and globetrotting white grape of Burgundy (where it reaches its pinnacle) and Champagne is now omnipresent worldwide, partly because it is one of the easiest to grow and vinify. I want to highlight seven examples from outside of the grape’s homeland of Burgundy in France. Affordable Burgundy favourites to follow in due course!

This versatile grape –the most widely planted grape variety in England and Wales – is just the ticket for chicken and shellfish. Welcome back Chardonnay! Try these …


  1. Pierre Jaurant French Chardonnay 2022, France (£6.79, Aldi, groceries.aldi.co.uk)

Anyone tucking into this vibrant, peachy and yellow-apple-stashed Chardonnay gem from Languedoc will be delighted. Punches well above its weight. The perfect summer garden party sip.


  1. Morrisons The Best Gran Montaña Chardonnay 2022, Argentina (£8, down from £9, Morrisons, groceries.morrisons.com)

It’s not all Malbec (thank goodness) in Argentina. Vintage in, vintage out, this easy-swigging, food-friendly, gently smoky own-label bargain buy from Morrisons with tropical fruit and buttery flavours finish gets my vote. A lot of uncomplicated pleasure and ‘bang for buck’ here.


  1. The Wine Society’s Exhibition Limarí Chardonnay 2022, Chile (£11.95, The Wine Society, thewinesociety.com)

Concha y Toro’s fine grapes from the limestone coast of Limarí, around 470 km north of Santiago, in the cool-climate Coquimbo wine region, give this racy barrel-fermented Chardonnay the edge. Try it with roast chicken, scallops or sea bass. The Wine Society’s buyers know what’s what.


  1. Rustenberg Wild Ferment Unwooded Chardonnay 2022, South Africa (£12, Tesco, tesco.com)

Seize this spot-on, tangy, pine needle, mandarin orange, orchard fruit, white peach, crème fraiche and citrus-scented wild yeast-fermented South African Chardonnay from the stainless steel tanks of the beautiful Barlow family cellar just outside Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. The marathon vintage concluded in late April was the greatest and longest vintage in the winery’s history – it was founded in 1682. Give it a chance to strut its stuff with food (hello, smoked salmon and risotto alla Milanese). A polished, svelte, unoaked alternative to Chablis.


  1. Viña Errázuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay 2020, Chile (£16.50-£17.75, Eton Vintners, etonvintners.com & The Oxford Wine Company, shop.oxfordwine.co.uk)

Nab this stellar, brioche-stashed Chilean sip from a warmer vintage. Well-judged light oak is merely a vehicle (it was wild fermented for a brief period with used French oak barrels, thereby allowing the varietal expression free play). The pristine grapes are sourced from the Aconcagua Costa vineyard located 12 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. Sip with fish pie, sole meunière or grilled/roasted white meats. Very smart indeed. Don’t serve too cold.


  1. Edi Simčič Estate Chardonnay 2018, Goriška Brda, Slovenia (£29.50, Bancroft Wines, bancroftwines.com)

Though they’re not cheap, forested and hilly Slovenia has some of the best wines in the Balkans, like this rich, deeply layered, toasted hazelnut, creamy and spicy Chardonnay from the Slovenian Brda (which means ‘hills’), bordering Italy’s Collio region, wine wizard Edi Simčič. Aged for 11 months in French oak barriques (40% new, 30% one-year-old, 30% two years old). A study in concentration and a sensational example from a country that celebrated its 30th birthday on 25 June 2021. Top selection by ace UK importer Bancroft Wines. Needs seared or roast shellfish, like lobster and scallops.


  1. Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018, Kent, England (£65, Gusbourne, gusbourne.com)

Pukka local English sparkling wine (100% Chardonnay) from Appledore with a minerality and finesse to its mouth feel that immediately sets it apart from other UK sparkling wines I’ve recently tried. This is all class that will become even more complex with more time on the cork. Utterly enticing and bang on for camembert and seafood: think oysters and lobsters. Excellent length. Love it.

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