This week Times Wine Editor James Viner discovers four tasty and refreshing bottles of the massively popular Chardonnay, one of the world’s most widely-cultivated white wine grapes…
Unlike Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay has relatively subtle aromas and flavours – dry white grape, growing and ripening without a struggle in a range of climates. High-quality (but also many dull) specimens are found in practically every winemaking country. Chardonnay makes bone-dry, steely wines such as Chablis as well as richer ones such as Puligny-Montrachet and sparkling wines, such as Champagne.
Early budding (thus sadly at risk of spring frost damage), it’s prized by winemakers for its malleability, reliably high ripeness levels and versatility. Choose carefully though, especially under the £10 mark, as it’s still easy to obtain an identikit Chardonnay. These four characterful and flavourful still examples get my thumbs up. Cheers!
A fresh and elegant Chardonnay from Chile’s coastal Casablanca Valley
Montes Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2020, Casablanca Valley, Chile (Majestic, £9.99 mix any six, alc 14%)
This is an exclusive bottling for Majestic from the pioneering Chilean premium landmark visionary winery, Montes. It delivers bright refreshment and sings with citrus, white peach and a light toastiness. Intricately assembled, all things in place, backed by a rounder texture that can only derive from a touch of barrel ferment (it was mainly fermented in inert concrete vessels, however), which at no point hinders the fruit from expressing itself. Impressive and approachable stuff, as usual, from Montes but now there’s even more finesse. Anyone for roast chicken or fried scallops?
A bright, rounded Chardonnay from sunny south-western France
Gerard Bertrand, Cité de Carcassonne Chardonnay 2021, Occitanie, France (Tesco, £12, alc 13%)
Beautifully crafted, you’ll find honey, white peach, hazelnut, nectarine, coconut and citrus notes in this spot-on southern French iteration of Chardonnay, which tapers into a long, satisfying finish. It has accessible charming fruit and real charisma in the glass. Versatile, uncomplicated (but satisfying) drinking in spades. Chill it for grilled fish, sole meunière, creamy pumpkin or mushroom risotto, grilled fish and roast chicken. Lovely drinking and an easy segue to the second glass.
Must-try lowish alcohol exclusive Aussie supermarket bargain
Audrey Wilkinson Winemaker’s Selection Chardonnay 2021, Hunter Valley, Australia (Waitrose, £2 off, down to £13.99, until November 1, alc 12.5%)
These days, Aussie Chardonnay is more judiciously oaked than in the recent past and restrained alcohol is encouraged. This tip-top discounted Chardy from the Hunter Valley will please those seeking ample flavour and freshness in the same glass, with plenty of textural elements. A light flintiness and subtle creaminess elevate the palate, adding to the wine’s complexity. A first-rate example of contemporary Australian Chardonnay from forty-year-old vines, which adds more interest and depth to the wine. Over-delivers massively for under fifteen quid. Nab it while on offer!
From Chardonnay’s French homeland, an autumnal white Burgundy without the huge price tag
Château de Beauregard, Pouilly-Fuissé Les Murgers 2020, Mâconnais, France (The Wine Society, £24.00, alc 13%)
If you fancy an introduction to lightly-oaked, affordable Burgundian whites, seize this one as it’s a compelling price in the Burgundian context. Pouilly-Fuissé is the most distinguished appellation in the Mâconnais region in southern Burgundy, producing rich, potent, full-bodied, textural wines. This rendition centres on bright stone fruits with hints of sweet hazelnut, vanilla and spice from sensitive oak ageing. A lot of wine for the money, balancing power and delicacy in equal measure. Decant (if drinking now), give it time to unwind and don’t serve too cold. One for grilled lobster and chips, scallops, fish and white meat in a creamy sauce. Bravo.
BRASSERIE OFFERS BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH
THE Brasserie at One Warwick Park in Chapel Place has launched an all you can eat and drink brunch menu to celebrate the opening of the venue.
After three successful weeks, The Brasserie at One Warwick Park, which is run by ELC, owner of One Media, the publisher of the Times, is expanding its offering further as it incorporates bottomless fizz into an already popular menu.
Every weekend, guests can enjoy a brunch menu between 11am and 2pm, along with 90 minutes of bottomless prosecco, bellinis or mimosas.
“Since the announcement of our new brunch menu the support from the local community has been great, everyone seems to be really excited,” said Food and Beverage Manager Sham Madys.