Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Weekend Wine Notes: A Tale of Two Chardonnays

A couple of weeks ago I returned to an old favourite, an unoaked chardonnay from the Mâconnais region in Burgundy: Saint-Véran en Crêches, Domaine Nathalie et Jacques Saumaize. I’ve been buying this Saint-Véran for years, and it never fails to deliver vintage in, vintage out. I’m not a big lover of oak as far as chardonnay is concerned, and I suspect this is one of the reasons why I love this wine. There’s plenty of refreshing lemony acidity here, and a lovely creamy note on the finish – it’s so well balanced and elegant. Everything I want from a chardonnay at this level. In fact, it leaves me wondering why I ever bother buying other examples. But then again, that’s part of the fun of wine, isn’t it, to try different things? How else to discover a new gem?

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Speaking of which, here’s a new wine from one of my favourite producers, GD Vajra: Dragon Langhe Bianco, Luigi Baudana (2012 vintage). Listed by The Wine Society as a chardonnay, the Dragon is a mercurial creature indeed – I’ve been reading Angela Crater’s Nights at the Circus, and this wine would be a fitting match. The Dragon hails from Serralunga d’Alba in the Piedmont region in North-West Italy, and it certainly feels quite European. On the nose, it’s quite floral with some stone-fruit notes, too, but if served blind, I doubt I’d mark this wine as chardonnay – it’s more complex and characterful than that. My initial thought was ‘assyrtiko’ from Greece, but the more I sampled this wine, the more it cried ‘Alsace’, especially as it warmed up. This wine is a beguiling mix of citrus (lemon oil), savoury and minerally flavours with a long, mouth-watering finish. Crying out for food, this wine would be lovely with salmon or a robust seafood dish – it’s got enough body and a slight oiliness to cope with something substantial.

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In fact, the Dragon isn’t just a ‘straight’ chardonnay. It’s a blend: 80% chardonnay, 20% sauvignon blanc, riesling and local grape, nascetta. Whatever it is, the Dragon is a winner, one that punches well above its price point of £9.95. More, please!

Wine stockist: I bought both wines from The Wine Society. I tasted the 2011 vintage of the Saint-Véran en Crêches, Domaine Nathalie et Jacques Saumaize – The Society has moved on to the 2012 vintage now, priced at £12.50 per bottle. The Dragon Langhe Bianco, Luigi Baudana, 2012 is £9.95 per bottle.

A stunning Canadian Chardonnay from Norman Hardie

Last year I was very excited to see The Wine Society list their first couple of wines from Canada: a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay (both 2011 vintage) from the Norman Hardie Winery in Prince Edward Country, Ontario. Alongside the appeal of coming from a territory that’s new to me, I liked the idea that Norman Hardie adopts a minimal-intervention approach to winemaking, i.e. the winery uses indigenous yeasts, avoids the addition of sulphur and the wines remain unfiltered and unfined before bottling.

I was delighted to see a few of my favourite wine writers and bloggers recommending these wines: for example, here’s a link to Jamie Goode’s review of both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (published on his blog).

Keen to try at least one of the wines, last October I bought a bottle of the Pinot with the intention of keeping it a few months. And then a twitter conversation with Fiona Beckett (another trusted wine writer) prompted me to splash out on a bottle of the Chardonnay, too, so I could gain the full Norman Hardie experience.

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Last weekend I decided to open the Norman Hardie Chardonnay, and I’m very happy to say it did not disappoint; quite the opposite in fact, as it’s a stunning wine, reminiscent of a classy Burgundian in terms of style and finesse. Aromas of fresh lemon on the nose with a yeasty/bready note, too. It’s such a well-balanced and rounded wine with plenty of vibrant, lemony acidity, peachy fruit and a lovely creamy note. And this combination makes it a perfect partner for chicken, perhaps a chicken casserole or chicken and leek pie.

The Norman Hardie is a very sleek and refined Chardonnay indeed. As a splash-out treat, it’s right up there with another of my personal favourites, the Kooyong Clonale from Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.

Wine stockist: I bought the Norman Hardie Unfiltered Chardonnay, 2011 from The Wine Society. Price: £20.