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  • Don’t Write Off Chardonnay

    Chardonnay has developed a bad reputation amongst wine lovers in recent years. It tends to be associated with heavy oaky, buttery flavours and has almost become something of a stereotype, thanks to films such as ‘Bridget Jones’. However, more and more wine drinkers are re-discovering the true qualities of the Chardonnay grape and appreciating its subtler characteristics.

    The 1970s have a lot to answer for in Chardonnay’s transformation into a wine that at its worst was regarded as nothing but ‘cheap plonk’. It was during this decade that the Paris Tasting was won by a Californian Chardonnay. Wine producers scrambled to try and emulate the Californian Chardonnay’s oaky undertones. The secret was revealed to be in the American oak barrels that were used to age the wine. American oak has a looser grain than French oak and imparts a buttery, woody quality into the wine. Wine producers across the world decided that this was the way to create world-class wine and began to follow suit.

    Unfortunately, the process seems to have been taken too far, resulting in the cloying, oak flavours that masked Chardonnay’s true qualities. However, after reassessing production methods and thanks to a change in public taste towards lighter, crisper wines, there are now more un-oaked Chardonnays creeping into the spotlight. These Chardonnays have returned back to their authentic roots and the result is a selection of fruity, medium-bodied wines that are perfect accompaniments to pasta, pork, seafood and chicken.

    Possibly the best way to appreciate Chardonnay is to sample a Chablis. Chablis is made using nothing but Chardonnay grapes and the majority of these wines are un-oaked. Those that are tend to be subtle, rather than overwhelming the grape’s natural flavours. The same rule applies to our Montenisa Brut, which uses the Chardonnay grape alongside a small quantity of Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero grapes to achieve a crisp finish with hints of apple and white peaches.

    The beauty of the Chardonnay grape is its dependability - there are some things that just shouldn’t be tampered with. Chardonnay is for wine drinkers who know what they like and aren’t going to be influenced by the latest trend or fad in winemaking. As reliable and enjoyable as a Sunday roast, this grape is at its best without frills and extra trimmings. While some may see it as a ‘middle-of-the-road’ choice, it still offers a rich and complex concentration of flavours that don’t need any fancy gimmicks to reveal their true character.

    Thursday, 20 January 2011 09:50:23 Europe/London