Luke Richardson is the sommelier at wine bar Le Di-Vin in Edinburgh. In his column for SLTN he shares his thoughts on all things wine-related and answers your questions about wine. If you have a question for Luke email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
HELLO again! So, following on from my previous two articles, this final one on Chardonnay will cover the spiritual home of the grape – Burgundy.
All styles can be found in this region, from the crisp and mineral styles in Chablis to the north of Dijon, to the rich, buttery, nutty wines of Meursault and Pouilly-Fuissé, and every other style in between.
Because there are so many different wines, I’ll list as many as I can with a brief description, starting with the lightest styles and finishing with the big hitters.
So, without further ado, here goes…
1. Chablis – found in three main classes but I’ll concentrate on the best value one: ‘village level’ wines (these just say Chablis on the label, with a producer’s name and a vintage) are the crispest, most mineral expressions of the Chardonnay grape and partner seafood incredibly well. Expect to pay £11 to £15 plus VAT. For something a little less mineral and a touch more fruity, have a go at a Petit Chablis, around £8 plus VAT and up.
2. After Chablis, simple Bourgogne Chardonnay (grapes can come from all over the region) provides lightly-oaked, good quality and versatile drinking, and is good with a variety of food, especially white meats and poultry cooked with cream. If you can find out where the producer has their vineyards, you can have an educated guess as to the style of their white Burgundy by checking what style that village makes, but that takes some time! These are around £8 to £20 plus VAT.
3. The next lightest wines are from the south part of Burgundy, outside the aptly named Cote D’Or and into the countryside surrounding the town of Mâcon. There are a few appellations which are known for their lighter styles – Mâcon-Uchizy, Mâcon-Lugny and Mâcon-Verzé to name a few – that generally specialise in unoaked or very lightly-oaked styles but have a bit more finesse and delivery to their flavour. These are good lunchtime wines with poultry or salads, or just for pleasant drinking. Expect to pay around £10 to £25 plus VAT for a semi-decent to pretty good kind of range.
4. Next are the tight, driven, fine wines of Puligny-Montrachet which get much more pricey, starting around £22 plus VAT and going up into the hundreds. These are very graceful, poised, elegant and powerful wines, which are amazing with shellfish and rich white fish, like turbot or halibut. They have quite a jolt of acidity to them and, normally, a very lean, mineral tautness to their structure whilst the flavour lasts on the palate for minutes, not seconds.
5. Lastly, it’s the turn of the biggest expressions of the Chardonnay grape, at least in Burgundy terms – the rich, heavy, oaky style that people seem to love or loathe. Villages like Chassange-Montrachet, Meursault and St Aubin all make this style in varying degrees, but we’re talking similar prices to the Puligny above. Nip back down to Mâcon, though, and you can find Pouilly-Fuissé for the bargain price of about £13 plus VAT. It’s great with rich chicken, veal, pork… any kind of rich, white meat in fact.
These wines all taste of butter, nuts, a touch smokey and, above all, luxurious… if a bit pricey! Cheers!