Fish or chicken on the menu? This top-drawer AUSTRALIAN CHARDONNAY will make it special, says wine editor MARY DOWEY …
Red Claw Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2015
When I first visited Australia’s Yarra Valley, maybe 15 years ago, the biggest surprise was to stumble across some exceptional Chardonnays. The man behind them, a young winemaker by the name of Tom Carson, told me he was determined to prove that he could coax this grape variety into producing wines every bit as fine as white Burgundy. He was aiming for a Burgundian style, taut and dry, rather than the ripe, lavish kind of Chardonnay more typical of Australia at that time.
Here comes exciting evidence that Carson is still focused on his mission. Only two things have changed in the meantime. He has moved from the Yarra to head up the team at Yabby Lake winery in the Mornington Peninsula – another outstanding Chardonnay region in Victoria. And he’s won a slew of medals in the intervening years for his supremely stylish wines.
Full marks to M&S for carrying this smart number. On the nose it’s strikingly Burgundian with notes of lemon and nuts. Although the palate points more clearly towards the New World with hints of pineapple, peach and melon as well as lemon, it’s kept in check by chalky minerality and a firm structure. Subtle handling of oak – one of Carson’s hallmarks – results in a creamy texture and just the right amount of substance to make you feel you’re drinking something worthwhile without being weighed down.
This is definitely a main course white – not a wine to sip by itself before a meal. It’s splendid with salmon or a creamy fish pie and equally good with a simple roast chicken – especially if you put a few chunks of lemon into the cavity before popping the bird in the oven. A basic old rule about matching food and wine is worth remembering: the better the wine, the simpler the food should be to show it off.
From Marks & Spencer, €27.
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