Chardonnay is the chameleon grape; it grows in almost every wine producing country in the world and its character changes according to the local soil, climate and wine culture. It is the perfect all rounder varying from rather neutral, mass produced wines to the pinnacle of greatness in the Grands Crus of Bourgogne. Its fruity character is a natural canvas for the winemaker: ferment it at cool temperatures in stainless steel or cement and the wine is light, fruity, fresh with good acidity and minerality. Ferment the wine in oak barrels and stir the lees and the grape releases a rich, buttery character with tropical fruits and great depth. It loves the interaction with yeasts as is most evident in Champagne where it is the most important grape in the famous champagnes of the region and in sparkling wines throughout the world.
The Chardonnay grape has inspired many clones such as the Dijon, Davis or Mendoza clones that are used frequently in the new world and often have exotic fruit flavours of pineapple, mango and passion fruit. Cool climate chardonnay is known for its orchard fruit character – green apple, pear and quince that can develop honeyed and nutty aromas if aged in oak. Chardonnays vary in sweetness; most white Burgundies are dry while the world’s best selling chardonnay, Kendall Jackson from California, has always had several degrees of sugar in the wine.
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- 2017 ArlemontChardonnay Pays d'Oc0.75l WhiteBio€7.20 €5.95An attractive, organic Chardonnay for everyday drinking, conveniently served in a screw-cap bottle for easy entertaining. It has a light platinum colour, a pretty, fresh, spicy nose with aromas of melon, pear and apple. Easy to drink and fruity with good purity and persistence, the wine finishes with a slightly sweet vanilla note. Serve with salads, fish and as an aperitif.
- Brut Saumur0.75l White€10.06 €8.31This Sparkling wine, which is made in the traditional method, comes from Saumur, in the Loire Valley. It is fresh with a lovely light body showing delicate floral and white-fruited notes. Offering excellent value for the quality, serve well-chilled as an aperitif.
- Les Charmes Mâcon Lugny0.75l WhiteNew€10.45 €8.64Brother to Mathieu and son of Michel Paquet of Domaine des Valanges, Camille is the winemaker of the family. He believes in making his wines as naturally as possible using indigineous yeasts, no chemicals and using barrels that are always two or three years old so that the oak will not interfere with the beautiful fruit flavours. This new addition to the Paquet portfolio has a pale golden colour, light perfumed nose, lovely orchard and slightly tropical fruit and like its name, is really very charming. Lovely to drink now, this is a very balanced Macon with lots of flavour to accompany seafood, smoked salmon and grilled fish.
- 2016 Domaine des ValangesLes Cras Saint-Véran0.75l White€15.50 €12.81Those of you who have already tasted the super St. Vérans from Domaine des Valanges, will enjoy tasting this wine from a small 1 1/2 hectare single vineyard site. The vines face south, south-east and are grown on stony, limestone soils. Vinified for 60% in tanks and 40% in oak barrels and allowed to age for nine months on the lees, only 9,000 bottles of this wine are produced each year. There is lots of perfume and fruit on the nose making the wine immediately inviting with rich Chardonnay notes balanced perfectly with a mineral freshness – clearly the influence of the limestone soil. Quite opulent on the palate, this is a superb Chardonnay combining lovely fruit and finesse. A superior bottling to be served with poached fish, white meats or refined first courses.
- 2016 Domaine des ValangesEn crèches, Hors Classe Saint-Véran0.75l White€15.50 €12.81This domain is going from strength to strength and the family is constantly looking for and finding great parcels of vineyards around the small winegrowing village of Davayé nestled at the foot of the Solutré Rock. New cellars, new vineyards and ambitious winemaking have resulted in some super wines. The “En Crèches” parcel faces south east, is sheltered from the north wind, has clay and fossilized limestone soils and lies at an altitude of 250 metres: a superb microclimate. The Chardonnay vines are over 60 years old and produce a fabulous wine with great minerality and tension. There is depth on the palate with honey, oatmeal, good oak and lots of vivacity. Unfortunately hailstorms in April destroyed much of the 2016 crop so there is less of this wine than usual so it is well worth reserving a few bottles for drinking for the next few years.
- Terra Mea Pouilly-Fuissé0.75l White€16.50 €13.64Françoise et Nicolas run this estate by themselves and their attention to detail and their old vines are the secret behind the quality of their wines. They pick their Chardonnay grapes quite late to bring out the character of their terroir, use only indigineous yeasts and carefully age the wines in their fine lees. We are very impressed by the concentration and precision of the 2016 vintage. It shows beautifully ripe fruit, rich aromatic notes of pear, almond blossom, linden and citrus fruit, great freshness mid-palate and a round, balanced finish. A lovely wine which tastes much grander than its appellation. Serve with white meat, fish and seafish.
- Brut Champagne0.375l White€16.60 €13.72Created in 1955, this group of Epernay producers make wines from 75 hectares of vineyards. Cuvée de Réserve is a blend of three vintages and predominately made from black varieties. Refined and elegant with a lovely taste of toasty brioche, almonds and ripe fruits. A little known Champagne at a very reasonable price, which often ranks above some of its more famous counterparts in blind tastings.