'Would your mum like this?'
Jill's mum is lovely, but where wine is concerned, she doesn't stray too far beyond the safe haven of cheap new World Chardonnay. But New World Chardonnay isn't what it was. Where once it could be caricatured as the juice from tinned fruit cocktail (the sort that had ONE oddly coloured, peculiarly small cherry in it) infused with a couple of 2-by-4's, today there seems to be a welcome move towards wines that are lighter and fresher, less oaky but more drinkable. The sort of wine I was supping tonight, in fact. Only this wasn't New World Chardonnay, it was a white Burgundy in the shape of the 2007 Domaine Cordier Mâcon Terroir de Charnay (as you'd pronounce 'Chardonnay' after a few glasses too many). Delicious, moreish wine, lively and zesty, and with a bit of a story to tell beyond the 'I'm a lovely apple-y wine' intro. Under a tenner at Majestic - a good price for a tasty wine from a star producer.
For me the Mâconnais is a happy-hunting ground for those looking for a halfway house between stereotypical New World and Old World Chardonnay. When the winemaker gets it right - and increasing numbers do - it's ripe, but it doesn't stray into overripeness, it's fruity but it's not JUST fruity, and it's complex without being too bookish. Spurred on by the Cordier wine, I delived in the cellar and found a Château des Rontets 2000 Pouilly-Fuissé Clos Varambon. This is where Mâconnais Chardonnay - and Pouilly-Fuissé is the top spot in the Mâconnais - differs from most New World Chardonnay. The wine was approaching its eighth birthday in vigorous middle age, still fruity, but with more interesting nutty notes on top of the classic apple crumble and quince flavours, and with an almost briny edge - the fact that the last glass tasted better than the first suggested that it still had plenty of life ahead of it. The excellent Vine Trail stocks younger vintages
I have a strong feeling that my mother in law would have loved both wines, probably the zippier Cordier before the ever-so-slightly louche Rontets, but she wasn't here, and the assembled company haven't even leave her any dregs to try tomorrow. Sorry Beryl, have to save your conversion to the Burgundian cause for another day.