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Tag Archives: French Wine

  • Chardonnay Day or Chardoday if you Prefer

    You’re not sure you like Chardonnay, right? We’ve heard it all before, “It’s too oaky, it’s too sharp, it burns my eyes when you spray me with that Chardonnay super soaker!” Babies. Poor Chardonnay it’s had an undeservedly rough ride, we blame Bridget Jones. She tainted Aussie Chardonnay’s with her whimsically uncool escapades. It also didn’t help, that those Australian wines so widely available and favoured by dear Bridget were questionable at best. Over-ripe, over-extracted and far too oaky; so, all in all, we totally understand why you may have had reservations, we all did. Thankfully, those days are well and truly behind us, Chardonnay is one of the most versatile and high performing white grapes out there. Do you like Chablis? That’s all Chardonnay folks! At times it can be voluptuous and buttery, at times citric and minerally. Chardonnay is the secret genius behind White Burgundy, a key partner in Champagne and has made its name all over the old and new world alike. It does well when matured in oak or bottled o-natural and its happy fermenting solo or blending with other grapes like Viognier, Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc.

    It’s official gang. Chardonnay’s cool again!

     What is Chardonnay?

    Chardonnay is a versatile white grape, grown all over the world but its home is undoubtedly in Burgundy.

    Is Chardonnay Called Anything Else?

    Due to the worldwide recognition of the name Chardonnay, mainly because of new world varietal labelling in the 80s most synonyms have fallen out of use but some wines maybe labelled as Aubaine, Beaunois, Gamay blanc and Melon blanc but these are rare and unlikely to be found exported to the UK.

    Where is Chardonnay From?

    Where do we begin? Anywhere it is possible to grow grapes some sod has planted Chardonnay vines, we can guarantee. This is because it performs well in almost any climate; steely and citric in cool climates, intense and tropical in the warm. However, it is best known for being the white variety of Burgundy (that is if you don’t include Aligoté… which no one does because Aligoté is the Ringo Star of Burgundy). In Burgundy, arguably, the finest white wines in the world are made, in villages like Meursault and Montrachet wines tend to be aged in oak to deliver an intense and rounded flavour profile of stone fruit and buttery brioche. Whereas in Chablis, Chardonnay tends to be unoaked, crisp, fresh and razor sharp. Despite its French heritage, Chardonnay’s fame was refreshed in the new world; particularly in California and Australia where rich fruit forward wines and varietal labelling raised Chardonnay’s reputation above any other wine. It is also possibly the most important grape for sparkling wine production, it is the key white grape in Champagne blends and this is adopted all over the world.

    What Does Chardonnay Taste Like?

    As we’ve established it sort of depends on where its grown and how it’s made. In places like Chablis, Carneros, Tasmania and Germany, Chardonnay will have striking acidity with plenty of tree fruit characters such as green apple, and citrus notes. In slightly warmer climates, like southern Burgundy and parts of South Africa, you can expect more stone fruit characters particularly white peach and apricot. In warm-hot climates like much of Australia there will be a decided tropical character; pineapple and melon in particular. Unlike more aromatic grapes, Chardonnay does well with new oak and if used the wine will have a marked vanilla, toasty, nutty aroma to the wine, which can either be subtle or distinct depending on the winemaker’s style.

    What Food Goes with Chardonnay?

    With wines like Chablis think Oysters, Scallops and other shellfish. If the wines are richer like a new world Chardonnay or an oaked Burgundy, it pairs beautifully with herby roast chicken even some pork dishes.

    What Other Wines are Similar to Chardonnay?

    We’d Recommend a dry Chenin from either the Loire or South Africa; these wines have a refreshing acidity have a similar weight and fruit flavour profile although Chenin can develop an interesting waxy note you won’t find in Chardonnay.


  • Mission Chimpossible!

    A couple of leathery digits poke around in a box. They remove a corkscrew and deftly prepare it for its noble purpose. A few more leathery digits introduce a bottle of wine, and as the cork is removed, the customers in the Maida Vale branch of Oddbins heartily applaud Loveable the chimp. Loveable has just opened the day's tasting wine with nothing but his feet and a winning smile. It's clear that his boyish demeanor has charmed the socks off some of those present, who will happily take him home and mother him. Job done! Now he must go on a mission. He grabs a handful of shiny, colourful cards from the counter, hops on his bike and wobbles off to another Oddbins store, to meet his brother Crafty. Crafty is deep in conversation with a group of American tourists.


    "...and it turns out the blighter had made off with my bally wallet! Anyway, yes, that claret is a big favourite of mine, tell you what, buy two and I'll take one home with me and we can compare notes tomorrow. Oh I say, here's my young brother, adorable chap. Looks young but he's actually in his twenties...". He places another bottle on the counter, next to what is now two Bordeaux wines. " you won't come unstuck adding his favourite Chilean red to your basket. Quite the star in his youth, whole string of TV adverts, got me a part as a confidence trickster in Carry On Cajoling. Who'd have thought?". 

    Loveable pushes the shiny cards upon him, with an imploring look. "What's that, old fruit? Malaysia? Your shop in Maida Vale is offering a free trip to Malaysia? Oh no, I can't go back there, not after the hoo-hah with the bridesmaids, dreadful kerfuffle, heh, heh, heh...Oh, the customers? Free entry with every purchase? And all the shops are doing it are they, even this one? What-ho!"

    From the no-chimps-land beneath the counter he conjures open a bottle of Burgundy and a handful of wine glasses, and starts pouring. The Americans are looking nervous. "You heard that, gentlemen? Once you've paid for this little beauty you get chance to win a holiday. Worth eighteen pounds of anybody's money if you ask me! Anyway, I was telling you about this chap, absolute blackguard he was..."

    With a forlorn expression, Loveable slips out of the shop and disappears into London, his rear wheel squeaking a little. From Notting Hill Tube to Portobello Road and on to every store in the capital, he is compelled to tell every single customer about this fabulous trip to a simian heartland, the very mention of which chimes a lost ancestral chord, a misty memory of Home. Instead he finds to his delight that the entire Oddbins estate has been taken over by chimpanzees, every one of them totally in command of this remarkable customer initiative, and driven entirely by thoughts of numerous festive get-togethers, for chimp and customer alike! The look on his face changes from desolate to blissful as he realises that the once lonely city is now teeming with his extended family, all wanting to take him to their bosom. Even the thought of exactly what might happen to a branch under Crafty's management doesn't rain on his parade!

    Now to find that accommodating couple from Maida Vale who were keen to put him up for the night. They might want to share the bottle of Château Peyrabon Haut-Médoc in his pannier, that his brother inveigled from a bloke wanting a bag of crisps. Will Crafty notice it's been acquisitioned? Will Loveable be expected to open the wine with his feet? Will the couple have plenty of 'nanas in after all this cycling...?


    And off he squeaks along Elgin Avenue, back towards Maida Vale, wondering how the shops outside London are dealing with having chimps all over the place. Aren't we all...?

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