It took me years to trust Chardonnay. I’d just tasted too many horrible wines. You know the kind. Cheap. Rough. Oaky. Sweaty.
Robin Hood’s underpants in a bottle.
And I wasn’t the only one. If there is one grape that people consistently cite as the one they don’t like, it’s chardonnay. People who otherwise love wine and drink open-mindedly.
Perhaps you’re one yourself? Are you?
Well, take a mouthful of Stella Bella 2008. Listen. Hear that? That’s the sound of your preconceptions jamming their fingers into the mains socket and crackling like cartilage on a bonfire as they fry.
Because this is a really, really nice wine. And it’s a chardonnay.
More than that, it’s an Australian chardonnay.
But I don’t think they serve this one in Wetherspoons, sadly.
The first thing you notice? Well, the fact that you have a choice about the first thing you notice. Nothing thrusts itself in your face: the wine has a lovely discrete quality. It’s peachily soft, melt-melt-melt-melting. A sophisticated seductress.
But it’s not all about the perfumed kiss; there’s real tonal range here. The slightest hint of the chargrill — a savoury, mouthwatering bitterness. Then there’s pineapple and cream; lemon curd. And on top of that the vigorous watery snap of fresh green chilli.
If you’ve formerly shied away from chardonnay, you owe it to yourself (and to me, damn it, to me) to try this. It proves beyond any doubt that Australia is more than up to the job of handling this grape. It’s shiningly good.
Perhaps the best thing about it is its range and balance. It’s a vocal quartet with soprano, alto, tenor and bass.
And they’re all wearing meticulously clean, beautifully scented underpants.
Price £12.50 from The Wine Society (no longer in stock), £12.95 from The Drink Shop