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Thursday 7 November 2013

Hardy's Chardies - #AllAboutChardonnay‏

A tasting of Hardy's Chardonnays presented by Belinda Stone

To a certain type of person, Chardonnay is rather passé - apparently, it's all Bridget Jones' fault.

You can trace the parabola of Chardonnay's rise and fall as a fashion icon by decade, just as you can observe trends in hemlines, facial hair and dressing up vs dressing down.

Chardonnay was never my first love (that was Austrian Riesling), but to me it is the great grape of ripe, oatmealy Meurseult, of lean and elegant Chablis and of celebratory Champagne.

It's pretty much found all over the world and is the most widely-planted white grape you've heard of (unless, like me, you are a geek and know about Airén).

It is versatile and varied - a grape that responds to both climate and the wine-making process, especially the use of oak.

It may not make the headlines or get talked about right now as much as other, trendier grape varieties, but it is ubiquitous - the Mars Bar of white wines.

Perhaps its very ubiquity is the reason for it languishing in the fashion doldrums; there's just not a huge amount to say about Chardonnay per se. We know its name and flavour profile well enough - whilst the trendy set have moved on to Georgia, qvevri or natural wines. All three, perhaps.

But back on planet mainstream, a drinkable wine for just over a fiver is no mean feat.

And so Belinda took us through a tasting of six varietal or Chardonnay-based wines from Hardy's to reacquaint ourselves with this noblest of white grapes.

Stamp Sparkling Chardonnay / PN NV, (£9.49) a charmat-method fizz, this was fruit-forward and modern. Floral, limey and crisp with some cut-grass aromas; clean and refreshing, uncomplicated. No Champagne alternative, it was a solid example of its style.

VR Chardonnay 2013 (£6.49) a basic, glugging supermarket Chardonnay. Pale sandy yellow, ripe tropical fruit, floral. White peach, lime cordial with high acidity.

Stamp Chardonnay / Semillon 2012 (£6.99) nicely textured wine with more leesiness. Restrained on the nose, the palate is richer, fuller and waxier, with ripe citrus fruit.

Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2013 (£8.49) a more interesting and complex wine. Pale sandy yellow with a restrained nose. Sweet vanilla, pineapple fruit and nicely oaked buttery oatmeal, tempered by fresh acidity with some persistence on the finish.

A classy, enjoyable easy-drinker.

William Hardy Chardonnay 2013 (£8.99) a more European style of Chardonnay from cooler-climate regions. Pineapple and white peach, toasty oak hints, sweet spice. Elegant.

Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2008 (£25) a very complex and adept wine that is a good half-decade off being ready to drink. Almost half Tasmanian, a mid-golden yellow, complex nose of toasty spice and musk. Sweet vanilla, butterscotch, fresh acidity toasty oak with apple and banana fruit, hot cross buns and a persistent, mineral finish. Long and savoury. Good. Needs decanting.
Overall, there was nothing to offend with any of the basic Chardonnays, which at the price point is realistically as much as you can expect.

The slightly more ambitious Chardonnays were distinctly more interesting - as ever, proof that a few more pounds can bring disproportionate improvements in quality.

The Eileen Hardy Chardonnay was a very serious wine indeed and my favourite of the evening.

Other related articles
Australian Tasting With Noel Young Wines

Hardy's - website, twitter
Miss Bouquet - website, twitter

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