Each week I am going to try to make the business of choosing a wine a doddle!
I am Nick Shill, and my wife Wendy and I run Shills of Station Street in Cockermouth.
We sell wines, hand-crafted chocolates, cheese and deli products.
What we want is the “aaaah” factor; that moment when you hit the sofa on a Friday night and the wine is cold and brilliantly refreshing; that moment when friends are round and that first glass gets everybody talking.
Trouble is, when you go to a supermarket you are faced with racks of bottles and you end up with an impulse purchase because the label looked great – just a gamble really!
I will try to give some meaningful advice.
I am going to start with Chardonnay, one of the most popular grape varieties in the world – a large component of champagne and the only white grape in Burgundy.
This is also the grape that has been most controversial.
Chardonnay can make the most flinty dry and minerally wine when grown in a cool climate, like the Chablis region of Burgundy.
But grown in the heat of Southern Australia, huge flavours of peach, guava and tropical fruits with buttery richness come flooding through.
Twenty years ago wine makers, especially in California and Australia, made deep yellow heavily oaked wines with massive flavours which technically were probably quite clever. However, the wines were virtually undrinkable, too rich and too woody.
Customers left in droves and the “ABCs” were born (anything but Chardonnay, thank you).
Today it is totally different. Wine makers understand subtlety and some seriously good wines are out there.
Ask for unoaked Australian Chardonnay and you will get bright fruit flavour with delicate acidity.
Ask for Californian Chardonnay and more than likely you will be rewarded with light coloured peachiness and oak coming through as vanilla.
If you have been put off Chardonnay because of over rich, woody wines, have another look. You may be surprised. The number of different styles is endless.
Interested? Next week I will explore how Chardonnay began to rule the world.
Published: February 6, 2012
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