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Episode 16 TNWG Wine Times: 'I Don't Like Chardonnay'

An all too common occurrence in the wine world especially when hosting events are the words: 'I Don't Like Chardonnay'. 🤔

😁 In truth, it always brings a slight smile to the face because I immediately know that I am going to challenge that thought process (note, I do not mean to prove some one wrong, far from it, but the idea of broadening their horizon of the grape). I should be clear, there is nothing wrong with knowing what you like and what you don't like, but here is a little history of the marvellous grape that is Chardonnay, and potentially a reason why you may change your mind in this week's piece....or better yet, may look for you to go and explore new horizons within the 'Chardonnay world'.

🤓 Here comes the geeky bit (secretly one of my favourite bits)....

🥂 Chardonnay - loved or reviled, one of the most versatile white wine grape varietals, indeed maybe the most versatile in the world. Chardonnay dates back arguably to the late 16th century but earliest reliable mentions are late 17th, taking on the name, Chardonnay, after many various spellings, in the 20th century.

🧬 The DNA parentage actually shows us that Chardonnay was the child of a natural Pinot and Gouais Blanc parentage. The grape varietal is one that is early budding (so does have a habit of being susceptible to spring frosts), and early ripening. It is easy to grow, so hence it is grown in so many illustrious places around the globe. It has relatively thin skins, thus making it particularly susceptible to the likes of botrytis bunch rot (rainy harvests especially).

🍇 Now the key part of why Chardonnay is such a brilliant grape varietal. As we have just depicted above, there is a great history behind the grape profile but what is even more exciting is that it comes in a multitude of styles.

🤔 Do you like traditional method Champagne?

Or Traditional method sparkling wines more generally - such as English, Italian (Franciacorta) some South African (Methode Classique), some Australian (eg Tassie), Oregon/Washington ...the list goes on! Well Chardonnay will be in these typically when made. Indeed, if you locate a 'Blanc de Blanc' - it is usually made from 100% Chardonnay.

🤔 How about Chablis?

Yes, you guessed it....that is Chardonnay too.

🥂 Chardonnay has a wonderful ability to take on flavours and aromas from its terroir (it's surrounding natural environment) as well as climatology of the region. It can also be altered by winemaking skills with usage of oak barrel ageing, malolactic fermentation, lees stirring etc all to give the consumer and the wine different attributes.

🥂 Whilst taste buds have changed, obviously the evolution of Chardonnay winemaking has done too. The old version of Aussie (apologies guys) large produced, heavily oaked (mostly with oak chips) are very much the past. It was the lesser phenomenon of the NZ Sauvignon Blanc rise which has continued to evolve. Now, Australian Chardonnay's are wonderfully tropical fruit orientated, far less oak influence and have a real feeling of summer in a glass. Compare this with the same grape varietal in France such as Chablis, and you get that classic steely, high acidity, citrus and white floral notes mixed with subtle minerality.

Look at this versus the likes of obviously a quality Burgundy (although the price tag may put some off) or a Cote D'Or Chardonnay with its melon and ripe apple undertones. In fat, Chardonnay is largely grown EVERYWHERE... and takes on unique personalities in each space.

🧊 Also think about temperatures when serving! I have spoken about never taking a bottle of wine directly out of the fridge and putting it in your glass (except in the below instances) - it is that bit too cold for delivering the aroma and flavour profile, so wait a little. In fact though, if you wanted even more guidelines try these:

  • Sparkling wines - very chilled, can be 3-7 degrees (ideally let it go up a couple of degrees from the fridge)

  • Chablis / Cool climate Chardonnays - served around 7-9 degrees roughly.

  • Warm climate made Chardonnays - you want those tropical notes so looking more towards 8-10 degrees roughly.

  • Oaked styles of Chardonnay - serve say 8-10 degrees even as much as 12 degrees (especially on a warm day in my view).

📚✍️ So whilst this is not about setting homework, what I would like you to do, especially those who have not enjoyed Chardonnay up to now, is to ask a few questions of yourself and then a bit of an investigation too (or you can book onto one of my courses / sessions too - or organise with me a virtual tasting too):

  • 🔍 First Step: Identify what it is that you do not like about Chardonnay?

👉 This doesn't mean you need to be a professor of science or understand the remits behind what is in the glass in any great detail. Just have a think about, what you did or didn't like about the wine, was it because it was too creamy/vanilla esque (likely signs of oak ageing / lees stirring), or was it because it was too tropical fruit esque (likely a warm climate orientated Chardonnay) or was it lacking in fruit construct and therefore, not defined enough (maybe it was a cool climate on a rainy vintage?).

  • 🥂 Second Step: Once identified, then try something new within the Chardonnay world. So if you have only drank French Chardonnays or Australian Chardonnays then try a different place in the world - recommendations available too if you wish.

  • 🥂 Third Step: If you still do not like Chardonnay as a still white wine, then try the sparklings - do you like them now, try a Blanc de Blanc....

❌ The old style approach of heavily, over-oaked Chardonnay is something which is ingrained in many people's minds and I can understand why...ultimately they were made for mass production and were not very good or rather they were for the masses and until we explored other winemaking capabilities and innovations became very one dimensonal. (Caveat, if you like that style, that obviously is no issue either - every palate is different and no right or wrongs!)

🤞 I hope at least from this short explanation on Chardonnay, I have at least challenged you to explore and think about the vast array of different wine styles that can be created with such a diverse grape varietal.


Artisan 4'5'7'12 2022 - Bjare Peninsula, Sweden

Artisan 4'5'7'12 2022 Vejby Vingard

A red wine inspired by the Solera system (those familiar will know this is the method of storing and ageing Sherry in Jerez) from different vintages (2009-2021). Handcrafted, from a dingle vineyard, the premise or the challenge being very much, that Sweden could not produce red wines - so they put it to the test!

And voila! What a wine! Who says Sweden cannot create red wines. Refined using concrete eggs, qvevri and oak barrels, the flavour profile is hugely diverse - think red and black fruit content, plus tannin rich, smoked spices, cedar, wild herbs and umami all in the glass. An explosion of senses. A powerful and tasty red made from the Regent grape and my first Swedish red too!



Another sign of struggles in the wine industry with over production a big concern, is the continuation on this theme with rates for fruit in Australia and more specifically in Riverland. Prices suggest as you can see from the article, circa $120 a tonne despite it costing £300 a tonne to produce, are very worrying signs. Will there be global government action in the wine industry and will we see a change in pricing for wine as a result? Will this affect fine wine investment pricing in the long term?



On the week (as at 21 Feb 13:30 LDN) changes:

EQUITIES: ⬆️ FTSE 100 up 1.04%; ⬆️ DAX up 1.12%; ⬇️ S&P 500 down 0.01%; ⬆️Nikkei 225 up 1.5%; ⬆️ Dow Jones up 0.5%;

COMMODITIES: ⬇️ Brent Oil down 1.6% ; ⬇️ Crude Oil down 2.3% ; ⬆️ Gold up 1.98%; ⬆️ Silver up 4.1%; ⬆️ Copper up 4.84%

BONDS (in yield terms): ⬆️ UK 2yrs higher 0.0205%; ⬆️ UK 10yrs higher 0.0035%; ⬆️ German 10yrs higher 0.036%, ⬆️ US 2yrs lower 0.042%; ⬆️ US 10yrs lower 0.041%;

Fixed income markets have taken a bit of a breather this week as data has been primarily secondary and any headline has only outlined the need for more time before cuts become apparent. Summer expectations for me still hold, but economies are holding out better than expected as we head towards the second half of the first quarter. Bond yields still look enticing especially in the short dated gilts, where you can obviously apply the tax free element on capital gains (albeit paying tax on the coupon interest) to give you more returns on a hold to maturity basis than savings accounts (after tax free ISA limits).

Property in the UK for the second month (as per Rightmove readings) has shown an increase month on month on the average house price too, which is stark contrast to the cost of living crisis which still exists and is very front and centre for most. Again though, showing that the UK economy, despite a 'technical recession' thanks to two quarter GDP readings in a row in negative territory, has left the Bank of England pacifying for now, their first cutting cycle month.

(Caveat: As always with my market insights, I always recommend seeing an Independent Financial Advisor for clarity, please do not think this is investment advise, purely my musings).


It has been busy in The Northern Wine Guy calendar with trips to VinExpo in Paris (see the previous episode for an insight into most debated topics) plus the Nottingham Wine Festival, organised once again by the Notts and Derby Wine School, in possibly one of the finest locations for a wine tasting - St Mary's Church in Nottingham.

Having missed out on a couple of events in addition to that this week, it is non-stop next week with the SITT - The Specialist Importers Trade Tasting in Manchester alongside the Bourgogne on Tour Masterclass Session with Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW .

Followed up with People's Choice Drinks Awards Finals Evening and Presentation also in Manchester and finishing up with my first collaboration with The Picture House Social in Sheffield on the Saturday.

Tickets are still available here, so grab the last ones to go from the Eventbrite link here:

Don't forget the Second Wine Tasting Event too in Sheffield - coming from Hideaway Bar in the City Centre, Thursday 21st March - book your tickets for:

Stay tuned for more from me and if you like what you are reading, then go and take a look and follow my Instagram page @thenorthernwineguy where I give more in depth recommendations, highlights and interview snippets on wine.

🎙️Do not forget too to tune into 'The Andy and Olly Show' this week for interviews with Swedish winemaker's Vejby Vingård - Vejby Marani  and NZ's Valli Wine who will both be making an appearance.

As well as 'The Northern Wine Guy Podcast Show' with the weekly release of an interview with yet another fabulous guest wine expert.

Both can be downloaded and found on my website, Spotify, Apple and Amazon - so get listening now!!

Thanks for reading and Cheers! 🍷


The Northern Wine Guy

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