Wine Tasting Club – Chardonnay
This month’s Wine Tasting Club is featuring a fairly well-known, but often maligned grape — Chardonnay. Over the years, it’s gone from being a glam grape to a stellar symbol of what can go wrong when wineries come to care more about what’s going into their bank accounts than what’s going into the bottle. And back again. It’s a wonder that it hasn’t developed some sort of complex. Come to think of it, maybe it has.
Given its history, I’d wager that Chardonnay probably suffers from a case of multiple personalities. Oaked, unoaked, loved, despised — this poor grape has seen it all.
Centuries ago, in Burgundy in eastern France, Chardonnay was the child of Pinot and Gouais Blanc. Although the parents were welcomed and appreciated by society’s upper crust, the child became the darling of the masses. Eventually elevated from its state of pauperhood, Chardonnay could be found growing in almost any wine-producing country.
Oaked Chardonnay was hugely popular throughout the 1980s only to suffer a serious setback by the end of the decade. What could cause such a shift? It’s a textbook case, actually. Some winemakers opted for lower quality grapes and invested little time coaxing out the best that Chardonnay could give. Wine merchants were flooded with cheap product. There’s nothing wrong with paying less for a bottle of wine, except when the liquid in the bottle leaves much to be desired. Some Chardonnays of the ’80s were as excessive and outrageous as orange suspenders and spiky, gelled hair.
Lucky for us, many winemakers around the world now view Chardonnay as a dream grape. One that’s malleable and willing to perform under the winemaker’s guiding hand.
Look for apple, peach, apricot, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, banana, mango, acacia, butter, vanilla, toast, mineral.
Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard 2006, Chardonnay
Pale straw colour with a hint of green. The aroma can best be described as a tropical fruit basket, showcasing many of the aroma characteristics mentioned above. Flavours of butter and stone fruits shine through with a slight bitter finish that cleanses the palate.
Try it with roasted chicken and potatoes.