On wine and wondering

Even though I spend a lot of time wandering in and wondering about nature, I confess I felt foolish being dropped in a vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand, so I...
91

2013 Bleasdale Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills

( £9.95, 12.5%, The Wine Society )

Anyone who doubts that the Australian Chardonnay revolution is one of the most exciting trends in the world, right now, booting the old “sunshine in a glass” cliché into the Great Southern Ocean, should join The Wine Society and get hold of a bottle of this remarkable wine from the cool climate Adelaide Hills. Burgundy could only dream of providing such value at under £10. Fresh, minerally and yeasty, with subtle oak and a savoury undertone, it tastes like a really good Saint Aubin. Drink over the next five years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Australia, White, Chardonnay

Marlborough: The Fear of France?

by Matt Walls
If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll love Marlborough in New Zealand. Of its 22,903 hectares of vineyards, 19,639 of them are planted with it. Undoubtedly this feels like an awful...

Braver New World

by Matt Walls
“Sorry I’m late sir. Ignore the bandage, I had an unexpected visit to the hospital to get my ear seen to. Anyway – I understand you’d like me to paint...
94

NV Krug, Grande Cuvée, Champagne

( £80-£100, 12%, Widely available )

A blend of 20 wines from ten different vintages, some of which are 15 years old, Krug’s non-vintage blend is one of a kind. It’s rich, complex and palate coating, with small bubbles, savoury, umami notes, hints of hazelnut and honey and a dry, refeshing palate. The kind of Champagne that works extremely well with food rather than as an aperitif. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £50-£100, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
90

NV Hambledon, Classic Cuvée, Hampshire

( £28.50, 12% )

Sourced from England’s oldest commercial vineyard (we are talking 1952), this blend of the Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is delicious, a fizz that manages to taste English while showing the complexity and nuances of a top Champagne. It’s chalky and dry, with subtle bubbles, hints of fresh pastry and citrus and a tapering finish: elegant, refined and understated. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, England, Sparkling, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
90

NV Chandon, Brut, Mendoza

( £14.99, 13%, Majestic )

Moët’s sparkling wines in South America have mostly been a disappointment, but this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a huge improvement on what has gone before. It’s a rich, toasty style with some sweetness from dosage, flavours of hazelnut and brioche and a baking spicy, well balanced finish. 

Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
90

NV Chandon, Rosé

( £15.99, 12.5%, Majestic )

An unusual but (for Argentina) rather appropriate blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Malbec, this bronze-tinged rosé is savoury and flavoursome with notes of summer fruits, toast and leesy richness. A very drinkable bottle of bubbles at the price. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Argentina, Sparkling, Malbec, Chardonnay
93

2011 Domaine Laroche, Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaudevey, Burgundy

( £19.69, 12.5%, www.thefinewinecompany.co.uk )

I’ve been very critical of the 2011 vintage in Chablis (because of a root vegetable-like taint called geosmin that I find on too many of the wines) but this is a welcome exception to the rule, a clean, appealingly developed Chardonnay from an excellent Premier Cru. There’s a touch of oak on this wine, but it’s steered by fruit. Honey, pear and aniseed spice are nicely combined on the palate. 

Drinking window: 2014-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Chardonnay