The body, weight and supple finesse of a good chardonnay; the aromatic fruit explosion of riesling. That’s a pretty damn fine combination.
A pretty damn fine combination embodied in this Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc, which deftly combines many of the attractions of the two top white grapes.
Take your first whiff and you’ll think it’s going to come down much more heavily on the chardonnay side of the scales. It’s got that fat, unapologetic nose-punch — edged about with vegetation. Despite the overtones of candyfloss and blossom, it smells serious, heavy. No messing.
But get it into your gob and you’ll be surprised. The stern, steely heiress suddenly switches on some jazz, necks a couple of martinis and, before you know it, the two of you are dancing west coast swing.
(Sorry, I know my wine personifications are invariably feminine. What can I say?)
Anyhow, yeah, take a gulp and your mouth is instantly greeted by a burst of sweet fruit and mellow aromatics. The sweet-yet-dry fullness of flavour is very like that of a fine, well-balanced German Riesling, but is underpinned by that butter-smooth, well-bred indomitability I expect of a Chardonnay.
(Yeah, see, our heiress doesn’t ever let herself go entirely.)
Metaphors aside, all you really need to know is that it’s delicious, that it’s exquisitely balanced and that it’s quite unlike the last Chenin Blanc you had.
(Unless, um, you last had a bottle of this. Obviously. No need to be a smart alec.)
That balance is brilliant: there’s a very considerable acidity to this wine, but it’s absolutely checked by the honeyed, dewey fruit. The two do not cancel one another out, but coexist harmoniously — keeping your tastebuds dancing between sharp and sweet.
Imagine a mug of lemon and honey where the combinations are absolutely perfectly judged. Then forget that, because this is way fucking nicer.
Almost five stars, y’know. Almost.
Price £12.95 from The Wine Society