For some people white wine is their wine of choice, but for others white wines are more of an aperitif, or an accompaniment to the starter rather than the main course. We will confess that at Maison Liedberg we sometimes fall into that way of thinking. But there are white wines that can stand up to strongly flavoured main courses. Chardonnay is the marmite of the wine world. We sell 15 times more Sauvignon Blanc than Chardonnay when the wine is sold by grape variety alone.
We have a number of customers who describe themselves as ABC (Anything But Chardonnay). Yet those who are anti-Chardonnay often say that they like Chablis. They are seemingly unaware that a Chablis is in fact a Chardonnay. Of course there is bad Chardonnay, just as there is substandard Sauvignon Blanc and mediocre Viognier.
The over oaked Chardonnays have not done anything for the PR of this fabulous grape. There are also fashions in wine, as there are in clothes and food, and Chardonnay seems to not be in vogue currently.
We believe that a good Chardonnay will outstrip any other white wine. We recognise that that’s quite a bold claim. Before those that dislike Chardonnay shout us down here’s what we think are the major selling points of a really good Chardonnay:
1. The complexity, richness and depth of flavour can be superb, meaning it can accompany a full flavoured main course rather than just the starter. It can be a good match for meats such as game and pork, as well as fish and vegetarian dishes. It can also compliment a cheese platter with certain cheeses – a good brie for example. It’s also a good match for strong flavours such as spices and garlic.
2. There is ageing potential in a Chardonnay that there isn’t with many other white wines. It means the wine can develop in taste over a period of time. The flavours can mature significantly over a long period of time. This is particularly evident in Burgundy.
3. It’s also a hugely versatile grape that can be grown in different climates. In more tropical climates it creates fruit flavours such as pineapple and lychee. In cooler regions like Burgundy and Champagne it can make wines with huge class and subtlety and complexity. Some of the greatest Chardonnays in the world come from Burgundy.
Chardonnay doesn’t have to break the bank either. You can pick up a great Maconnais or Petit Chablis for under £10. So the next time you’re looking for a good white wine why not ditch your usual bottle and try a Chardonnay? You might have previously avoided choosing one but why not spice things up a bit? Pair it with some good food and you might be amazed at how good it is.