Le Casse Noix Chardonnay 2012, France
Chardonnay has had a rollercoaster ride. In its boom days of the 1990s we couldn't get enough of those super-charged, tropical fruit and vanilla flavours, when Australian and Californian winemakers took the refined and elegant grape behind such famous French names as Chablis and Meursault, and pimped it up with extra ripeness, extra sweetness and a big dollop of creamy oak flavour. It was a huge box-office hit that led winemakers everywhere - including in some parts of France - to mimic the style.
But just as quickly as the super-Chardonnay phenomenon grew, it imploded catastrophically. Wine drinkers shunned this style of wine and we saw the birth of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) movement and sales of Chardonnay plummeting as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and a host of un-oaked styles soared in popularity The last 10 years has seen those same winemakers rethink their wines and return to much more temperate and restrained styles with authentic Chardonnay flavours instead of exaggerated sweetness and oak.
A fine example of the 'new Chardonnay' is this wine from the Languedoc in southern France. Here, as in warmer New World regions like Australia and California, winemakers have responded to consumers' rejection of over-alcoholic and over-oaked Chardonnay. This example has only 12.5% alcohol and is far from being a blockbuster. Instead it majors on crisp apple and citrus aromatics, though there is a creaminess and light nougat quality of ripeness. On the palate there is abundant ripe fruit sweetness, but crucially it has racy citrus acidity focusing the apple and melon fruit. It's a very nice wine and great example of Chardonnay revisited. Watch the video for food matching ideas and more information. £6.99 - £7.49 including Davis Bell McCraith, Amps Fine Wine, CrossStobs Bottle Shop, South Down Cellars, Harper Wells. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.