Posts Tagged ‘anything but chardonnay’

Chardonnay & chipsSo Oz Clarke declares Bridget Jones responsible for the nation’s flight from chardonnay.  Well hardly, mate: Australian chardonnay put us off chardonnay!  Surely it’s no surprise to find the large glass in the hand of a latterday drunkorexic now filled with the oily allurements of Italian Pinot Grigio; the mouthfeel of all that oaky Australian machismo is just too gaggingly throaty to go down, man.  No wonder the guzzling nation’s going all ABC (anything but chardonnay, mes innocents) and sliding over to the easy sipping seductions of a bland European.  And it’s so much more sophisticated, no?  Who wouldn’t favour the oeno-equivalent of Andrea Bocelli over the testosterone-fuelled bellowings of Australia’s own UN-ambassador  Sir Les Patterson – most memorably on the timeless classic Chardonnay, that raucous tribute to his favourite beverage?

But I don’t consider personality-free pinot grigio much of an improvement over heavy-set chardonnay; if they were my only wine options I be on the amber nectar.  Perish that thought (quickly!), but this state of affairs set me wondering: do Aussie white wine makers feel an overbearing need to prove their manhood by getting wood, so to speak?  Could be: the boombastic swaggerings of Shiraz and kicking-sand-in-your-face Cabernet from Down-Under can be overwhelming – intimidating even – but I do wish producers of the white stuff, instead of overcompensating for their inadequacies – real or imagined – would take a look at the Italian male and realise a bit of finesse, style and subtlety – and even, dare I say it, dandiness – can really pay off when it comes to attracting girls.  Obviously you can take that too far, yet like a dismal date who’s swallowed a viagra, an “affordable” Australian white can be offensively oaky.  Spit or swallow?  I’ll have just a glass of water and an early night, thanks all the same. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of delicous whites around for those who share my aversion to the bland, the oily and the over-oaked.  You could do a lot worse than check out Victoria Moore’s recommendations in today’s Guardian – for us hicks-in-the-sticks easily obtainable high street buys are a godsend – otherwise, I’m no expert but if you’re bored of the foregoing yet desire a bit of  Jackson Pollock in your whites I’d suggest keeping an eye out for the following genres:catspee

  • viognier
  • Alsace anything
  • most from southwest France
  • sauvignon blanc/sémillon blends from Bordeaux (not trendy thus good value)
  • Picpoul de Pinet
  • all Italians – as long as they’re neither chardonnay nor pinot grigio they’re probably interesting
  • Iberians (so long as they’re not Viura!)
  • sauvignon blanc: a vexed question, for  “cats pee-on-a-gooseberry-bush” is an apt description coined by Oz Clarke (who else?) & also the not-so-ironic offering from Coopers Creek vineyard of New Zealand (available for purchase here) – on the whole I steer clear unless it’s Sancerre, or the label mentions passion fruit and I’m feeling optimistic.  Can be wonderful; should be blended with sémillon more often than it is.

Can’t think of anything else to add right now, although there are many, many more, but one thing I want to say is that for reasons practical and political I do recommend adopting the habit of drinking like a wide-ranging locavore with a wandering eye…

Oh, and wouldn’t you know – now I’ve said my two cents’ worth I see Jancis Robinson too has something to say on the topic of ABC in today’s Financial Times.  Things are looking up!

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