(2018) Only the second ever release of Chapel Down's top single vineyard Chardonnay. It's harvested by hand, whole bunch pressed, and fermented with wild yeasts in French oak barrels where it spent nine months on the lees. It has lovely clarity, a sheen of almond and nougat over not too ripe orchard fruit, and is immediately elegant. In the mouth it has very good concentration, good ripeness, an enjoyable tension between sweet peachy fruit and a tangy, orange and lemon acidity. Medium-bodied and staying nicely balanced, it's a keen, lithe Chardonnay of great style, the finished just rounded out with subtle oak notes. Burgundian? That's certainly a fair ballpark in which to place this.
(2018) A subtle but very fine and, in the end, charming Chardonnay this, it is a négociant wine made from fruit and must bought from long-term contracted growers, and only a small proportion of the blend sees oak. Apples, but ripe, a little pastry or vanilla covering, and hints of more tropical fruit are gentle and welcoming. In the mouth it is not the most concentrated of complex of white Burgundies, but the silky, vanilla-touched fruit and texture and the sweet fruited finish are most enjoyable.
(2018) The DOC of Lugana is dedicated to the Trebbiano grape, making mostly still white wines as well as some sweet and sparkling variants. This is fruity and crisp, but with a nice bit of fat lemony fruit and acidity, moving into grapefruity tones and a touch of saltiness in the finish. It's a nice blend of generous texture and fruit and racy acidity.
(2018) From vineyards at 485 metres in the Banksdale Vineyard, King Valley, Victoria, this Chardonnay at 12.5% alcohol will have been picked quite early and handled reductively (without exposure to oxygen) to give a lightly flinty character in the modern New World Chardonnay idiom. The nose has a little whiff of cheesiness that's not altogether unwelcome, as the lime and red apple fruit is good. In the mouth it is maybe just a trifle less sharply focused that one might hope, and perhaps lacking a dimension of complexity, but having said that it is nicely weighted between creaminess and citrus freshness, and is well balanced into quite a long finish.
(2018) Marsanne is a traditional grape of the Rhône Valley in France, though it is relatively rare to see it bottled as a single varietal wine. This example from Paul Mas's 'La Forge' vineyard in the Languedoc is truly lovely, perhaps picked just a little earlier than some to retain it agility and freshness. What a beguiling nose, a bowlful of ripe pears and peaches, tiny Riesling-like floral and wax nuances, and a hint of oatmeal and almond from partial barrel ageing. Round, succulent and fleshy-fruity on the palate, there is texture and a little spice and toast, but it's clean as a whistle into the finish. Lovely on its own, but could take everything from Chinese food to white fish in its stride. £8.99 in Majestic on a mixed-six deal at time of review. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) Famed for its aquarium, the town of Monterey lies just south of San Francisco and surrounding vineyards produce this wine. Though only 20% sees oak barrels, and only for five months, there is nevertheless quite a pronounced charriness on the nose, a bit of coffee and bran-like character over spicy toffee apple fruit. In the mouth the wine is freshened by good acidity, but it just lacks a little flesh, a little fat on its bones around the mid-palate.
(2018) Another wine that moves the story of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on a page or two, from the organic certified and biodynamic vineyards of Seresin, fermented with wild yeasts and with a small proportion fermented in French oak, as well as having 5% Semillon in the blend. That speaks of an attempt to create a more layered wine with real dimension, and it succeeds. A little wild yeast funky and earthy character lies behind yellow plum and melon aromas, no more than a hint of grassiness. In the mouth the exotic opulence of the fruit shows through a little more, moving into papaya and nectarine, then a fine, racy, driving mineral acidity gives a bit of oomph to the finish. Not a simple quaffer, but not without its approachable charms. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) A really nice, crowd-friendly traditional method blend of the three main Champagne grapes, aged for a minimum of one year in Hush Heath's cellars. It's fruity and bright, pear and juicy red apple and seemingly quite sweet: certainly a higher dosage than some here, but with excellent citrus acidity and some nice creamy and lightly toasty character from the lees ageing.
(2018) From their base in Pézenas, the family-owned Domaines Paul Mas are certainly one of the big names of the Languedoc region, their wines a fixture of UK supermarket shelves. This is something a little different, a crisp white made from the Clairette Blanche, from the tiny appellation of Clairette du Languedoc, where Paul Mas owns almost half of all Clairette plantings. It is elegantly floral, with an almost freesia-like note, but very delicate, and plenty of fresh apple and lemon. In the mouth that freshness drives forward, only 12.5% alcohol helping keep it light on its feet, yet it has a but of flavour intensity as well as a long, crisp finish. For more information and food-matching suggestions, please watch the video.
(2018) Sourced from cooler coastal vineyards, the nutty and toasty aroma of oak is there, but so too is a fresh, cool orchard fruit and citrus rather than anything overtly tropical. Bone dry on the palate, this is a really good example of the 'new Chardonnay' from the sunny Californian vineyards, with masses of pithy acidity and zesty fruit flavour just buttressed by creamy and nutty oak.