The Chardonnay

Now I realise that even the title of the post will have some wine buffs up in arms.

Chardonnay is not a wine grape that has covered itself in glory in recent years. It has come to stand for all that is crass and commercial in modern wine with artificially oaked and chemically enhanced Australian and Californnia wines making Chardonnay a veritable swear word.

In fact now it’s so difficult to find a decent one the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction with little or nothing on the shelves – the fashion right now is for highly acidic Sauvignon Blanc whites which I like, but…

Heres where I come clean. J and I developed a taste for buttery, oaky Chardonnays on trips to California and over the years we have been relentlessly searching for similar wines in the UK – imported from California or South Africa or even France – to no avail. We’ve come close with Majestic Wine having a small but perfectly formed selection, but their buyers must find the whole notion of oaky Chardonnays abhorrent as they are few and far between. The likes of Harvey Nichols has  a few nice options but they are fearsomely expensive. It seems the American like many wine-producing nations like to keep the best for themselves.

Imaging my joy then when passing independent wine and liquor store Latitude in Leeds when I popped in on the off-chance they might have a few options. Well, I struck pay dirt with the manager proudly displaying his wares of ‘unfashionably oaky Chardonnays’ (my words not his, by the way). There was plenty to choose from and after signing up for their loyalty card ( I think I’ll be back there very soon), I scuttled off to see how the promising Napa Cellars 2010 Chardonnay would fare when paired with a delicious hand-picked crab salad.

Well it was off the scale – well-balanced oak, creamy and buttery and notes of caramel at the finish. Too much for some people I’m sure but we marvelled as the deep creamy yellow slid around the glass. Probably the nearest we’ve had to the up scale Napa Chardonnay we tasted last year in California. Nirvana in a glass.

I think I’m going to be on first name terms with the guys at Latitude very soon…