That awkward moment when you realize you’ve accidentally bought unoaked Chardonnay.
We’ve all been there, right?
Or is it just me? I swear this has happened to me two or three times now. I’ve been thinking I could do with a nice buttery, oaky Chardonnay to perfectly complement a meal I’m preparing – invariably, roast chicken – and I end up uncorking (or, which is more likely, unscrewing) a bottle of unoaked Aussie Chardonnay.
Foundstone‘s 2010 release is only the latest in a long – well, short – list of such foibles. I oughtn’t to complain about an absence of char-grilled wooden blocks in the early stages of my wine’s life-cycle, I know. None of the elements I miss from Chardonnay in this form are actually anything to do with the grape itself, and its inherent character.
But that toastiness and that strength are what I have grown to know and love about the grape. It’s a hard truth to endure that stripped of these essentially artificial additives, the wine is – while perfectly good – an entirely different beast.
Foundstone’s unoaked Chardonnay is a plump, fruity affair with elements of pineapple, apricot and melon in the aroma, and perhaps even a slightly greener appley texture to the taste that hints at a more refined – and much more fashionable – drink than the big, brash wines I love (and that apparently a lot of people now hate). It’s quite nice, but not as distinct or interesting as, say, your average Aussie Viognier, and not as sharp and refreshing as a nearby NZ Sauvignon Blanc.
I can’t help wondering, what is this stuff actually for?
It’s a good wine, yeah sure – if you like that sort of thing. But my problem with “naked” Chardonnay is that unless you’re a bit of a wine buff, you really don’t know what you’re getting. Chardonnay takes on the characteristics of its place of birth – its terroir, or whatever – so the further the trend moves in this direction the less of a good deal your average customer is getting. Wine is elitist enough without the few knowns that exist for us plebs being recaptured by the establishment and remistified all over again.
Give Chardonnay back its one unifying factor; give it back what makes it different from other white wines; give it back its oak.
Just to clarify, I do know that oaked Chardonnays are still sold. But as long as unoaked versions line the shelves of our local plonk-purveyors’ establishments, how am I to be guaranteed I’ll successfully select a suitably succulent and smoky sssChardonnay to complement my chicken?
Exactly. Nobody knows.
You can buy this from Deli on the Quay, Poole, and many other places, no doubt. Its price varies but it tends to fall between five and ten pounds.