Honeycomb Chardonnay 2016

Journey’s End Honeycomb Chardonnay 2016, South Africa

(£10, Marks & Spencer)  

Poor old Chardonnay. I was told of someone recently who refuses to even allow it into the room, such is the virulent distaste they have for it.

I’d argue this is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Chardonnay comes in so many different shapes and sizes, it’s impossible to dislike them all. These days, Chardonnay tends to be much fresher and more elegant than a decade or so ago, when New World (especially Australian) versions were all about rich, creamy, almost sickly flavours.

This wine’s a great case in point. It used to be super buttery and toasty – as the name suggests – but this 2016 is really refreshing, as well as having a toasty hint. That’s the way it should be. And that’s also why it goes so well with food, hence me recommending it on Saturday Kitchen to go with Jon Rotheram’s smoked haddock rissoles with chicory and dill salad.

Just as this dish has two sides to it – the tang of the vinaigrette and bitter leaves on the one hand, the smoky richness of the haddock and cream on the other – so the wine marries an invigorating freshness with a satisfying roundness. It’s actually great value for what it is and would work with lots of different food.

So there we go. No reason to be down on Chardonnay.

(7/10, Peter, Feb 2017)