May 23rd is International Chardonnay Day; I pay homage to a couple of my current favourites….

The Chardonnay Grape, taking advantage of the early morning sun

Chardonnay, someone once said, is a white grape trying to be a red wine. I think this is because the flavours are so full and exciting, and that the wine takes kindly to oak maturation and will continue to mature positively if kept cool cellared. The grape, particularly from old vines, has sufficient fullness of flavour, to be bottled unwooded, or delicately oaked and makes lovely refreshing crisp wines. This style is becoming more and more popular. At times it is blended with Pinot Noir to make a still wine. It is of course one of the major grapes used in Méthode Cap Classique Wines for Blanc de Blancs style wines

There are obviously certain Chardonnays I get to taste more often than others, so here are a few of my current favourites. I have ot put vintages in as many are switching over to the new year.

Asara The Vineyard Collection Chardonnay
From a Burgundy shaped bottle under screw cap, the Asara Vineyard Collection Chardonnay Lightly Wooded 2015 has the Asara Vineyard Collection livery. In the glass, it is a pale straw colour. On the nose, there are whiffs of a mix citrus, fresh sliced ripe pear and ripe white peach. There is also an almond brioche aroma. At entry the fruit is crisp and generous. Here we have flavours of fresh ginger juice and again the white peach. Nice and full midpalate and the aftertaste is zesty and refreshing.

De Wetshof Bateleur Chardonnay
From a Burgundy shaped bottle under natural cork with the very elegant and simple De Wetshof Label. In the glass, a gem bright pale golden straw. The tastes are classical quality Chardonnay – all windfall citrus, full oranges and lemon and sweet tropical limes. The oak and its concomitant spices support the fruit perfectly. I feminine yet beautifully constructed wine with bold flavours, mouthfeel and a long, gently waning and satisfying aftertaste. This is a wine which, if cellared well, will mature slowly over years and just get betterer and betterer.

Delaire Graff Summer Court Chardonnay
From a Burgundy shaped lime green bottle closed with a screw cap. The label is classical simple for the Delaire Graff Summercourt Chardonnay 2017. In the glass, it is gem bright pale gold with lime green flashes. The aromas and flavours follow one after the other with ripe white fleshed peaches and ripe winter melon  and sweet tropical limes. On entry the generosity of flavours, the fine golden thread of acidity, billow out into the opulent mid palate, really showing off Chardonnay with well applied oak. Flavours intermingle in the long and gently waning aftertaste. Rich, round and sappy.

Landskroon Unwooded Chardonnay
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed under screw cap. The label, designed by Anthony Lane, is minimalist and elegant. In the glass, the wine is a pale golden straw. The aromas are classic mature   Chardonnay whiffs. A combination of citrus, melon and the creamy flavour of mango. There is a lovely thread of acidity running through the wine from entry, through the generous mid palate and into the log and gently waning dry finishing aftertaste. Lovely glass.
Pasarene Chardonnay
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed under natural cork and the top of the bottle dipped in white wax. The label has an artist’s image of Mother Nature, simple, also in white. In the glass, the wine is a pale golden straw with lime green flashes.  The aromas are of citrus, lemon zest, sweet tropical limes, fresh white peaches and orange blossom. The palate is rich and generous with an undertow of the tight grain Burgundy barrels, 30% of which were new. From entry, a crisp thread runs through to the long lasting aftertaste. I like the ‘gentleness’ of the wine which is a reflection of Martin’s time in California.

Holden Manz Chardonnay Reserve
Bottled in a heavy Burgundy shaped bottle under natural cork with a gold wax seal, the label is elegant and understated. In the glass, the colour is a pale lemon straw. Clean, clear nose of fresh baked almond brioche, sweet tropical limes and windfall oranges and sweet mandarin preserve. Always amazes me the creaminess in a well-made wine like this. Swirling flavours through the mid palate and into the long aftertaste of green melon, ginger juice, ripe white fleshed peaches and the mix of citrus.

Pierre Jourdan Ratafia
Bottled under a T shaped natural cork in a squat 500 millilitre brown glass bottle with a classical elegant Pierre Jourdan label. In the glass, it is a rich golden amber with thick streams, referred to as legs [I like the more poetic cathedral windows], showing an unctuousness in the wine. I prefer using a small wine glass rather than a small sherry or port glass, we are ratifying a treaty here, so we have reason to be generous and celebratory with the Ratafia. In fact, throw the cork away. Honeylike, with a strong thread of fynbos and Chardonnay whiffs. Wow! Rich, round, soft, unctuous, with the brandy beautifully interwoven with the honey favours. There is a lovely little undertow of the brandy in the aftertaste.