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Simon's Wine Of The Week - The Listening Station Chardonnay

Good morning, I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and enjoyed a bit more sunshine Simon’s Wine of the Week is The Listening Station Chardonnay Do you turn your nose up when offered a glass of Chardonnay? Are you an ABC? Do you choose Anything But Chardonnay? Well perhaps it’s time to choose again as you need to come round to the delights of the grape that makes the greatest dry white wines on Planet Earth - Fact (or at least my opinion anyway). All the great white wines of Burgundy (Chablis, Meursault and Puligny-and Chassagne-Montrachet to name but a few) are made with Chardonnay and are amongst the most delicious things to fill any glass – and unfortunately some of the most expensive as prices have rocketed recently. So why does Chardonnay have such a bad reputation when it makes such sublime wines? Let me take you back to the early nineties – a fabled time before the internet, before the Channel Tunnel, where Sonic the Hedgehog ruled the Sony Mega Drive, and we listened to Nirvana whilst wearing lumberjack shirts and wore our boots with our laces undone for some stupid reason. A time where Chardonnay ruled, and we drank it by the bucketload. A time where certain winemakers in certain warmer countries sniffed a swift buck and decided to churn out pound-store Chardonnay by the vat. All they need to do was leave the grape on the vine so it massively overripens, chuck in as many oak chips as you possibly could get away with, convert as much crisp malic acid to fat, buttery lactic acid, and make a wine so oaky, so cloying, so tropical, it felt like you were chewing through a bit of wood soaked in Lilt. Wine tastes changed pretty much overnight and suddenly Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon ruled the roost and Chardonnay was down in the dumps. Except it didn’t happen exactly like that. Yes, there was a glut of over-oaked, over-ripe, and over-here Chardonnay, but there was plenty of the good stuff. Wines that most people never knew were Chardonnay, particularly from France, were still incredibly popular. The classic example of this was Chablis – 100% Chardonnay, most of it never seen an oak tree in its life, crisp and clean and completely different to what most people would expect from the grape. Because Chardonnay is more dependent on climate and winemaking than most grapes. Grow it in a cool climate – you get high acidity, green apple and lemon (like a Chablis). Grow it in a warm climate and you get those tropical grapefruit and melon flavours. Don’t put the wine in oak – let those pure fruit flavours shine through. Too much oak – start chewing that tree again. For those of you adverse to the vanilla and caramel delights of oak, this Listening Station Australian chardonnay has not a jot of the stuff. Totally unoaked it has lovely tropical grapefruit and melon, which is offset by decent acidity and a whiff of lemon and fleshy peach. There’s a touch of buttery complexity in the background and a nice vein of minerality on the finish that makes it super refreshing. I opened this at a blind tasting a few weeks back and it went down a storm with the punters – and even opened the eyes of a few Anything But Chardonnay’s to the delights of the grape. This wine would sit perfectly on any wine list a few points above the house. It’s perfect for any seafood restaurant as it will pair beautifully with anything of that ilk. Also great with vegetable risotto, chicken salads or a lighter cheese. Have a great week, Simon
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