‘They all taste the same to me…’ I’ve heard such a line trotted out by two quite different groups of people. Firstly, by people like my mum, a wise, funny woman, whose generous nature is only sometimes undermined by her acerbic wit. I’ve given up trying to appeal to her tastebuds which seem to react to food but – through stubbornness I suspect – refuse to be wooed by wine. And when she says that ‘they’ – all wines in other words – all taste the same, I resist the urge to say, ‘Oh, and you’ve tried all of them of course.’ A lost cause, but I’ll keep plugging away.
The second group are the wine snobs, those who poo-poo others who drink beneath their level. A constant diet of classed growth clarets/Parker-95+-ers has made them lose touch with what normal people drink. From a solitary experience several years ago, they think they know what bog-standard Australian Chardonnays are like – ‘They all taste the same…’
Sadly some wine writers fall into this latter category, but not of course yours truly. So the next couple of sessions are going to see my trying the wares of a trio of Australia’s most famous names. Shiraz/Cabernet tomorrow, but today it’s Chardie.
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2007, South Eastern Australia
The back-label description has this word ‘stonefruit’ on – when did this (like vanillin) become common parlance? Anyway, this is what I call Ronseal wine, in that it does what it says on the tin/bottle. The easy melon and peach (that’s one of the stonefruit family) flavours are gentle and soothing, and that edge of slightly resinous oak that poked out a bit to start with seems to be receding. There’s some crispness to the finish too. Pas mal at all…
Hardy’s Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2007, South Australia
This is in a richer, plumper style, with the fruit verging more towards the tropical – guava, passionfruit etc – while the oak has a stronger, but still not too intrusive presence. I prefer the slightly fresher style of the Lindemans, but again this is far from undrinkable.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2007, South Australia
Wolfie – about whom several books on political incorrectness could be written – is better known for reds than whites and I’ve found the Chardonnay rather overblown on occasions. This smells more subtle, with a creamy, vanilla edge of oak, rather than a plank assault, and more restrained gentle fruit than the gloopy, tinned-fruit-syrup of the past. It’s a bigger wine than the previous two, but – and this is a style rather than quality thing – I find a little too much flavour. I’ll qualify that. A little too much of certain flavours. If you want to talk graphs, this just two or three major flavour spikes, rather than a broader range of flavours at less intense levels.
So while I’ll keep an eye on the Nottage Hill and Wolf Blass, Bin 65 – tonight I’m yours.