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April 26, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Chardonnay

This week we’ll peel back the covers and focus on one of the world’s most intriguing and widely planted varieties—chardonnay. This variety epitomises the globalisation of wine and is regarded as a rite of passage into the international wine market by many new world producers. Chardonnay grapes have a green skin and relatively neutral flavours that are definitely nothing to write home about, but could be worth a quick email or text message.

Many of the flavours within chardonnay fruit are derived from the climate and environment where the grape is planted. When this is combined with various wine-making techniques and the use of oak, the result is vastly different regional expressions throughout the world. Chardonnay produced in Chablis tends to be elegant and flinty, whereas Marlborough chardonnay is renowned for its vivacious zest and white peach aromas.

When it comes to chardonnay, New Zealand has well and truly thumped on the door of the international wine scene, acquiring a reputation for producing top-quality fruit-laden examples of the variety. The first records of chardonnay being planted in New Zealand date back to the 1830s, however from the 1970s onwards large-scale plantings of the variety started as public demand grew.

One thing that always flummoxes me is people who turn their noses up at chardonnay and label it as tacky and boring. In my opinion it is everything but. Chardonnay is fascinating and diverse with a constantly evolving array of styles that make the wine appealing with or without food.

Wine of the Week:

The wine of the week is arguably the best value for money chardonnay in the country and is the Redmetal Chardonnay 2009 ($14.95) from Hawke’s Bay. The focus of the Redmetal label is bang for buck, and the wines are made by Grant Edmonds, who is also the head winemaker for Sileni Estates.

This wine is fruit-driven, made for early drinking, and great in any situation. The bouquet is rife with nectarine, grapefruit, and also contains a subtle hint of oak. Mouth feel is clean, balanced and pure. If you’re keen on matching this wine with food then I’d recommend something more mellow and creamy rather than spicy. Fish, chicken pasta, and oven fries are all great options.

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