Wine with Leslie Williams: Chardonnay is now hot on the heels of Sauvignon Blanc

I heard good news from the wine world this week, it seems the irrational fear of Chardonnay has begun to dissipate.

Wine with Leslie Williams: Chardonnay is now hot on the heels of Sauvignon Blanc

I heard good news from the wine world this week, it seems the irrational fear of Chardonnay has begun to dissipate.

One multiple retailer told me recently that Chardonnay is now hot on the heels of Sauvignon Blanc and in general, I am seeing more varietal Chardonnays on shelves.

I understand why consumers tired of oaky Chardonnay from the New World around 2002 but I never understood their antipathy to the grape that gives us Puligny Montrachet, Chablis and many of the best Champagnes.

Pinot Noir and its cousin Meunier are more important in Champagne but Chardonnay is increasing and is likely to put Meunier in second place soon thanks to the increased demand for Blanc de Blancs and because it ages so well.

The most famous Blanc de Blancs Champagne is Salon but it is also one of the rarest so you may not even be aware of it.

Salon is now owned by Delamotte, who is the fifth-oldest Champagne house (1760), and both houses are located in the heart of the Côte des Blancs in Les Mesnil-sur- Oger, easily the most famous of Champagne’s Grand Crus.

Both are imported here by Pembroke Wines www.pembrokewines.ie.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Arestel Cava, Spain — €10.99

Stockist: Lidl

In general Supermarket Cava is the best value full-fizz sparkling wine available, although beware as some can be rather thin and acidic.

This version from Lidl has a pleasing creamy lemon and citrus aroma with good bright fizz and a green apple character on the finish with decent levels of mousse. Good on its own and perfect for cocktails.

Tenuta Sant’Anna Prosecco, Italy — €12.99

Stockist: JJ O’Driscolls, Curious Wines Cork, Red Nose Wines Clonmel, Vintry Rathgar

This wine seems to have two importers at the moment which is good news as it is one of the best frizzante

Proseccos in the market with significantly more fizz than most at this price level. White peach and citrus aromas with lemony freshness and that classic soft Prosecco character

Exquisite Collection Crémant de Jura, France — €12.49

Stockist: Aldi

The Jura region in Eastern France is one you will be hearing more about in coming years such is the quality in the region.

Meanwhile, this old favourite keeps chugging along and winning awards — crisp citrus and fresh fruit aromas, zesty and clean with reasonably persistent mousse and a cream-tinged lemony finish.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Graham Norton’s Own Prosecco, Italy — €17.99

Stockist: Tesco

Graham Norton has become a bit of a force to be reckoned with in the wine world with his Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Rosé all selling well.

This ‘extra dry’ Spumante (full-fizz) Prosecco and has light floral and peach aromas and lemony citrus flavours on the palate with extra lemon peel on the finish and even some acidity.

Delamotte Brut NV Champagne, France — €49 to €55

Stockists: Thomas Woodberry Galway, Mitchells CHQ & Glasthule,

On The Grapevine Dalkey, The Wine Library Dun Laoghaire This is Delamotte’s entry level non-vintage Champagne which I consider one of the best value quality NVs around.

A blend of 55% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 10% Meunier this pours with fine tiny bubbles and creamy lemon fruit aromas.

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV, France — €99

Stockists: Redmonds Ranelagh, The Corkscrew, Green Man Wines, www.wineonline.ie

This Heidsieck NV Blanc de Blancs is mainly from the 2012 vintage with 25% reserve wines and is pristine and fresh with that classic nutty character you get in Heidsieck with lime and lemon zest touches and fermented dough in the background. Textured and creamy on the finish.

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