The time is ripe for championing chardonnay. The time is always right for chardonnay, I hear some say. Well yes, but autumn bounty means mellow days and cool nights, risottos, rich seafood pastas and paella, bouillabaisse and citrussy chicken , duck with gingered apples, roasted gourds and much more. This is the perfect season for pairing full-bodied elegant chards with rich seasonal fare that has taken more than a few minutes to stir together.
On Friday May 26, gourmets and winelovers will celebrate World Chardonnay Day, another great excuse to indulge in an appetising unwooded chard to start proceedings at sunset, and follow with a choice of complex chardonnays that offer citrus and cream against a structured core of oak and minerality to enhance a menu chosen for the wine and finishing with gourmet cheeses.
Three fine chards sampled recently which more than lived up to my expectations:
Glenelly estate makes two chardonnays, with the oaked version being better known and more highly rated in Platter. But I love cellarmaster Luke Cuinneagain's unwooded chardonnay, a junior sister that displays typical hallmarks of elegance in a fresh but sophisticated wine . Delicious aromas of citrus and honey precede a mouthful of well-balanced fruit and rounded structure, followed a long finish. Alcohol levels at 13% are in keeping .
The Cape of Good Hope is a distinguished range of terroir-specific wines, many of which are also produced from venerable vines. Part of Anthonij Rupert’s portfolio, the Serruria chardonnay 2015 is another gem, sourced from a vineyard in the Elandskloof, high above Villiersdorp, on the farm Atltima. From a reserved start of wafts of orange blossom aromas, the wine opens up to reveal a harmonious combo of oak and citrus flavours and satisfying freshness. Winemaker Mark van Buuren is the talented creator of this range. This wine will enhance a wide range of seafood and poultry fare, along with South-east Asian specialities.
Hartenberg’s Grande Dame, the Eleanor 2015 is a chardonnay to approach with keen anticipation. One of the estate’s Super Premium wines, previous vintages have been rated four and a half and five stars. The 2015 vintage, which has produced superb chards from various corners of Stellenbosch region and from others, is no exception.
Eleanor Finlayson and husband Maurice owned the farm Montagne, as Hartenberg used to be known, from the late 1940s to 1977. She was an exceptional matriarch, multi-tasking as she brought up her sons and dispensed warm hospitality to visitors. This chardonnay is another fitting tribute, a classic that can compete with any other in South Africa and many from across the globe. Rich, yet fresh, presenting nutty and vanilla flavours along with some citrus, well-balanced complexity and delightful mouthfeel. Cellarmaster Carl Schultz moves from award-winning shiraz to champion chards with equally prestigious results.