Long Live Chardonnay

One of our favourite wines suffers, we think, from being misunderstood…

A few years ago, it became fashionable to say, “Oh, no, not me, I don’t drink Chardonnay, anything but that!”. The acronym ABC, ‘Anything But Chardonnay’ was bandied about as though it were somehow clever, and an awful lot of people deprived themselves of the pleasures of one of the most popular and versatile wines in the world. But Chardonnay is one of the wine world’s greats not just because it’s easy for producers to work with but because, properly handled, it does produce a superlative wine. But the antipathy also made no sense because depending on where Chardonnay is grown and how it is handled, the results can be anything from a crisp, dry Chablis to a rich, fruity, full-bodied New World wine. That’s a strange range to turn down out of hand.

We thought this trend had passed, but on researching this article it turns out the Chardonnay naysayers are still out there, to which we say, “we understand, but there is still time to correct this path”. Because Chardonnay is a wine with many faces, and it may be the case that anyone who prefers to pass it over may simply not have found the Right Chardonnay for them just yet.

They say that Chardonnay is the winemaker’s grape, because it offers a relatively neutral canvas on which to “paint” their choices both pre-and-post-harvest. They also appreciate the ease with which it grows in a variety of climates and the relatively high yields it affords. Once harvested, Chardonnay also responds well to a wider range of winemaking techniques than most white varieties. So to say one does not like Chardonnay is to perhaps reveal oneself as having experienced too little in life. The trick is to find the one that you like.

Because for the same reasons that producers love the adaptability and flexibility that Chardonnay, it’s great for consumers too. If you love a crisp, dry white wine, then head straight for the Burgundy section of your wine list. Here you’ll find a selection of minerally Chardonnays, Chablis, that nonetheless should offer fruitful tones. And if you prefer something a little heavier, sweeter, more tropically fruity and, likely, more alcoholic, then check out the Chardonnays coming from places such as Australia and California.

You’ll find this and more on the Wine List at Topaz, so please don’t hesitate to ask your sommelier for his advice, and let him know what your preferences are. You may be pleasantly surprised!

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