Chardonnay is a classic French grape originally from Burgundy. Today it is grown all over the planet and has a band of devotees who follow it avidly. In years gone by the Californians made very buttery examples with heavy wood influences. Eventually, this trend diminished and today’s wine drinkers are looking for simpler and more approachable Chardonnay, with many unwooded examples making friends daily.
It can also be a component in classic bubbly and can be used to great advantage in white blends, adding plenty of character.
One cannot expect the wine made from grapes grown in areas as diverse as Orange River and Calitzdorp, Stellenbosch and Mc Gregor to taste the same. They will not. It is like sisters from the same family—they are all sisters but each has her own personality—as a Lebanese friend of mine used to say.
These are some of my favourites:
Barrel fermented and aged in new French oak for 4 months, rich and creamy, great with creamy pasta dishes. A bargain at R85
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE SERURRIA 2017
From Elandskloof near Villiersdorp, marvellous quality with a fragrant nose of citrus blossoms
and some vanilla from the well-controlled wood component. Superb. R205
CAVALLI THE FOAL CHRISTINA 2019
Typical chardonnay characteristic of buttery citrus note from the Robertson Valley –beguiling, multi-award-winning. R135
DE WETSHOF BATELEUR 2017
Named after a magnificent bird of prey, the Bateleur eagle, this champion wine is one of the finest you will find anywhere let alone in SA. The marriage of superb fruit and very careful oaking brought to their logical conclusion—magnificent. R450
DE WETSHOF LIMESTONE HILL 2019
Uncomplicated and pure in its simplicity, one can almost see the beautiful Robertson Valley—one can certainly taste it in every sip—gorgeous—unwooded. R90
Certified Biodynamic with plenty of ripe fruit from vineyards 282 meters above sea level in the verdant Elgin Valley—superior and delicious R250
GRANDE PROVENCE 2018
This is the wine that won Thys Smit a nomination for the Best Young Winemaker of the Year. From Franschhoek. Lightly wooded, elegant without being precious, just the thing to knock down poolside, great with food like fish, roast chicken. R170
A Robertson Valley treasure from one of the quaintest villages you will find anywhere—opulent fruit with hints of butterscotch –aptly—unwooded. R55
NEWTON JOHNSON FAMILY RESERVE 2018
Matured in Burgundian oak barrels for 11months gives plenty of character without softening the edges of this really superior wine. Chewy and crunchy almost red wine-like characteristics make for a fascinating unforgettable wine. R305
Gloriously sure of itself, with brioche and almond notes –so French—some oak very well controlled to support all that great fruit. R110