Spend less, drink better

by Matt Walls
The UK is a nation of bargain hunters. There are more pound shops on Britain’s high streets than bookstores. When it comes to wine we’re no different; most of what...
94

2012 Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay, Nelson

( £37.80, 13.5%, Christopher Keiller )

Tim and Judy Finn’s Chardonnay is established as one of the three best Chardonnays in New Zealand and this vintage more than lives up to its reputation. It’s a leesy, creamy, deftly oaked wine with attractive stone fruit flavours, hints of cashew, oatmeal and toast and a focused, minerally finish. Superb stuff. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Chardonnay
95

NV Henriot Blanc de Blancs, Champagne

( £44.00, 12%, Oddbins )

Sourced mostly from the Côte des Blancs and including 30% of reserve wines, Henriot’s Blanc de Blancs is a non vintage wine that tastes like a vintage release. It’s rich, toasty and just off dry with notes of brioche and toast and a subtle, tapering finish. One of the best Blanc de Blancs on the market. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
93

2011 Greywacke Chardonnay, Marlborough

( £21, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

Kevin Judd was better known at Cloudy Bay, just as he is at Greywacke, for his Sauvignon Blancs than his Chardonnay, but he’s always been a very skilful producer of the latter grape. This is arguably the best Chardonnay he’s made yet at his new venture, a minerally, citrus-tinged white with deftly interwoven oak and flavours of oatmeal and honey. Very classy. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, New Zealand, White, Chardonnay
94

2012 Tolpuddle Chardonnay, Tasmania

( £39.00, 13%, Liberty Wines )

A remarkable Tasmanian Chardonnay from Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith, the team behind Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills. This is dense, flavoursome stuff that wouldn’t look out of place in a Meursault Premier Cru bottle, with subtle, toasty oak, lots of mid-palate weight, flavours of struck flint, citrus and pear and a long, tapering finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, White, Chardonnay
90

2012 Mâcon-Villages-Uchizy, Burgundy

( £10.99 down to £8.24, 13%, Marks & Spencer )

2012 was an excellent vintge for white Burgundy, from Chablis in the north to the Mâconnais in the south. This unoaked example from the Domaine Sallet Raphaël is a case in point, combining ripe, stone fruit flavours with tangy acidity and limestone-derived freshness. Very drinakble indeed, even for Chardonnay agnostics.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, White, Chardonnay
93

NV De St Gall Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne

( £29 down to £21.75, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Well up to the very good standards of the Union Champagne co-op, this all Chardonnay fizz from Premier and Grand Cru villages is a very refined drop: fresh, focused and well structured with lowish dosage (residual sugar) and hints of brioche and citrus fruits. A Champagne that will age well, too, on past performance. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
90

2012 Joseph Drouhin Rully, Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy

( £14.99 down to £11,25, 12.5%, Waitrose )

2012 was on the smallest vintages on record in Burgundy, but quality was high, even in “lesser” regions, such as the Chalonnaise. This lightly oaked, harmonious Chardonnay is fresh and crisp, with notes of nutmeg spice and citrus peel and a tangy, chalky undertone. Great value. And it will age well, too. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, White, Chardonnay
94

2004 Waitrose Brut Special Reserve Vintage Champagne

( £30.99 down to £23.25, 12%, Waitrose )

Waitrose doesn’t source its Vintage Champagne from P&C Heidsieck any more, alas, so get hold of this amazing fizz while it’s still on the shelves. It’s toasty and rich, with layer upon layer of flavour, fine bubbles, incredible length and just enough dosage to balance the acidity. A complex, savoury bubbly that’s a steal under £30. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
89

2009 The Liberator (This Bird Has Flown), Swartland

( £11.95, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

This Cape blend of Chenin, Viognier, Chardonnay and Clairetter Blanche won’t be to everyone’s taste – it’s got some age to it and a developed, Sherry-like not – but I salute its ambiiton and left field flavours. Rich and honeyed, with some vanilla and nutmeg spice, fresh acidity and bags of concentration. Appealingly funky. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, South Africa, White, Bical, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Clairette, Viognier