Posted on 30th March 2017 by JN Wine
Chardonnay is the most widely-planted grape variety in the world, yet, unfortunately, not always the most popular. Quite polarising in fact. For me personally, it up there as one of my favourites – extremely versatile, it comes in many guises – cool, crisp and lean; rich and ripe with juicy fruit, full of texture and body with oaked styles, and bubbles of course (Champagne dahling!). Its flavour profile ranges from fresh apple and citrus fruits, to more tropical stone fruit, to butter, hazelnut and even sweet spice when oaked.
Its ancestral home is in Burgundy, where some of the finest white wines in the world are produced from 100% Chardonnay. From the famous chalky soils of Chablis, the Chardonnay here is usually unoaked, preferring to show off instead its lean freshness and signature flinty minerality.
A perfect example of this is the Domaine Gueguen Chablis 2015 – fresh, aromatic and organic to boot. Further south in Burgundy you will come across the famous place-names such as Puligny Montrachet, Pouilly Fuisse, Macon Vergisson, these wines are typically a little riper, fuller bodied, and may see some gentle oak ageing.
For a medium-bodied style, look no further than Casablanca Cefiro Chardonnay 2015. In what should be a rather hot corner of the world, the Chardonnay grapes are kept cool by the Pacific Ocean breezes. Still, the fruit profile is richer and riper and more tropical – melon, nectarines and pineapple. The wine is gently oaked for 6-8 months, giving a fuller, rounder style. Perfect with fishcakes and lightly-flavoured chicken dishes such as salads.
At the far end of the Chardonnay scale, the Rustenberg Chardonnay 2015 is a fantastic example of a rich, rounded oaked Chardonnay. With the South African climate the fruit is ripe and tropical, yet still has the vital freshness and acidity, all backed up and rounded out by toasted, creamy oak. This is a fabulous food wine, and matches well with richer, creamier dishes such as fish pie, roast chicken and even earthier dishes such as mushroom & pumpkin risotto.