At the recent Corney and Barrow Winter tasting my friend (an overly bright prize winning psychologist) humorously derided my winespeak. However, I had the last laugh because, being new to tastings, he then went on a tipsy spending spree having been seduced by the the atmosphere at the Tower of London and the wonderful wines (Salon 99, Peter Sisseck’s Flor de Pingus, Leflaive’s Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Referts and Tenuta di Trinoro IGT stood out). These are serious wines at serious prices and you cannot help but enjoy being guided through a range of white burgundy by Patrick Leflaive, but what to drink every day?
Despite me waxing lyrical (wittering on) about metaphor I have had some good hits and feedback on the site recently. I am also often asked for ‘tips’ and, despite the essentially subjective nature of tasting, I do think there are some really reliable, accessible and relatively good value bottles out there that most people enjoy. Mindful of this, and the austerity Zeitgeist, I thought I would list a few ‘everyday bottles’ without resorting to too many flowery metaphors. I will start with Chardonnay as I think the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) brigade have been throwing out the baby with the bath water. The rise of Pinot grigio, Albariño, Gruner Veltliner, Viognier et al have made Chardonnay feel very 80s but it is still a great grape.
The days of unsubtle New World Chardonnay are not completely over but each year I am increasingly impressed by Chile and you can do a lot worse than Erraruziz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010 and Tabali Chardonnay (Reserva Especiale) 2010. There are still issues with oak but makers seem to be holding back a bit more and the wines are all the better for it. They often have good acidity and a distinctive tropical edge (the purple prose is resurfacing) which is exciting. They are unlikely to usurp Le Montrachet but you can drink well around the £10 a bottle mark.
If you want something more frugal then Chile can still deliver with Morrison’s Chardonnay, Central Valley 2010 coming in at £4.99. Don’t forget about France because Cave de Lugny Chardonnay Macon villages 2010 is a relative snip at around £6 and readily available (Asda, Majestic, Waitrose…). It will never wow you with its depth but will happily accompany a wide range of chicken and fish dishes. The Co‐operative’s, Chardonnay Western Cape 2010 also demonstrates that South Africa can produce passable Chardonnay that retails around the magic £5 mark. I still find that you have to pay for good Australian Chardonnay (air miles are a consideration) but Oxford Landing is a staple for many, although reports of ‘bad bottles’ seems to divide people in to two distinct camps. Overall though we should be thankful that decent entry level Chardonnay is being made across the world. I may not enjoy what I would consider over-oaked examples but some people love vanilla toffee popcorn flavours in wine. They are well-served but so too are people who want more subtle food friendly Chardonnay. It can be used to make great wines but also to make good wines that do not break the bank.
I will try and work my way through other varieties, maybe Riesling (as with Chardonnay, New World examples just get technically better and better) or Rhones next (the 09 Rhones are looking like some of the best value reds out there).