Bring on the '80's revival

By Richard Ehrlich, April 20, 2014
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Do you remember Chardonnay? I do. In the 1980s, when the Anglophone world was beginning to learn that there was more to wine than red, white and fizzy, asking for Chardonnay became proof of sophistication. Or so a lot of people thought, anyway – some even gave the word as a name to their new-born girls. (It sure beats Gruner Veltliner.)

Perhaps inevitably, a backlash set in against the dull, anonymous Chard that poured onto our shores (especially from Australia). The world discovered Sauvignon Blanc and then Pinot Grigio, much of which, sadly, was just as insipid as the ubiquitous Chardonnay it replaced.

Of course, one group of people never suffered from ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) syndrome. These are the people who had the good taste and the muscular credit cards to buy white Burgundy.

If I won the lottery, I’d contact Montrachet, Howard Ripley, Domaine Direct or another top-notch Burgundy specialist, and start buying. In bulk.

These thoughts were set in train during a weekend in Paris, when we had a half-bottle of St Véran 2011, Michel Chavet.

St Véran, in the Mâconnais, is not as famous as other bits of Burgundy, but this wine was wonderful, rich and buttery even though it never went near an oak barrel.

And good news: it’s sold here, £12-13.50 per bottle, by a handful of independents. Do an online search. This wine is worth tracking down. Needless to say, good Chardonnay is made elsewhere. Even in Australia. If it’s a bargain you’re looking for, rush to Majestic, where they have DB Reserve Chardonnay 2011, South East Australia on offer until the 28th of April.

South East Australia has committed numerous crimes against Chardonnay, but De Bortoli, the producer, has fashioned a beautifully balanced wine from a lousy vintage. Buy 2 bottles and you pay £6.66, instead of the usual £9.99.

And finally, for something completely different: it ain’t Chardonnay as we know it, but Tagus Creek Chardonnay Fernão Pires 2012 (Asda, £6.25) has melony, stone-fruity overtones (from the Fernão Pires) that evoke the spring. Even if you’re still suffering from Chardonnay-fatigue, you’ll like this.

    Last updated: 10:45am, April 20 2014