Wine: French chardonnay - a most versatile grape
Chardonnay, is one of the most versatile grape varieties and can reflect its immediate environment more than most others. When grown in cooler northern France's Loire, Chablis and Bourgogne regions, Chardonnay tastes of crisp and green apple fruits. While in the warmer regions of the Pay's d'Oc in the south of France, the wines reflect the Mediterranean sunshine with ripe peach and a nectarine fruity character.
On the label, 'Vin de France' means the wines can be a blend from regions all over France.
Food is Chardonnay's best friend. Unoaked Chardonnays suit shellfish and freshwater fish, salads or pasta especially with pesto or garlic butter. Oaked Chardonnays work well with denser fish, salmon and monkfish with light creamy sauces or white meats and poultry.
These wines are the highest scoring French Chardonnays under €20 from a blind taste test of 30 bottles.
1) Chardonnay 2014, Couvent de Jacobins, Louis Jadot, Bourgogne 12.5pc
Lovely classy and classic Burgundy with white apple flesh and white pepper with a little lift of pepper on the finish. Enjoy with pork and a mustard cream sauce.
€19.99 widely available nationwide including in Dublin at: Redmond's, Ranelagh; McHugh's, Kilbarrack & Artane; The Vintry, Rathgar and Deveney's, Rathmines & Dundrum. In Cork: O'Driscoll's, Ballinlough and Bradley's, North Main Street.
2) Chardonnay 2014, Domaine Bellevue, Val de Loire 13pc
Grassy and vegetal scents. Delicious basil and green apple sorbet flavours. Partner with paella, laden with chicken and fish.
€13.99 at jnwine.com
3) Chardonnay 2014, Maison de La Villette, Vin de France 13pc
White pepper and apple aromas. Tasty ripe peach fruit with a long nectarine finish.
€14.99 at Salthill Liquor Store, Galway; Shiel's Supermarket and Gibney's, Malahide; Deveney's, Dublin; Jus De Vin, Portmarnock; Kelly's, Clontarf; Thomas Martin's, Fairview.
4) Chardonnay 2014, Monrouby, Côtes de Thau, Pays d'Oc 13pc
Depth of pithy grapefruit with mineral and zest expressing a terroir character. Serve with sweet and sour prawns.
€14.99 Egan's Food & Wine, Portlaoise; Rath's Londis, Carlow & Castledermot and wineonline.ie
5) Chardonnay 2014, Chateau de Nancelle, Macon Villages, Bourgogne 13pc
Ripe red apples with a depth of flavour and white pepper finish. Match with a creamy mushroom risotto.
€16 at Wines Direct, Mullingar and winesdirect.ie
6) Chardonnay 2014, Domaine Séguinot Bordot, Petit Chablis, Bourgogne 12.5pc
Mineral and salty with pithy citrus peel palate. Try fish and chips but hold the vinegar.
€17.25 at Wines Direct, Mullingar and winesdirect.ie
7) Chardonnay 2014, Dominique Piron, Beaujolais-Blanc, Bourgogne 12.7pc
Very tasty and intense flavours of lemons and apples. Zesty and tingling. Safe with sushi.
€18.95 at Searson's, Monkstown.
8) Chardonnay 2014, Novellum, Vin de France 13pc
Sherbet aromas. Ripe pears and a mineral minty herbal finish. Enjoy with a fish tagine and couscous.
€17.50 at Gibney's, Malahide; Wine House, Trim; World Wide Wines, Waterford; Holland Fine Wines, Bray and DrinkStore, Stoneybatter and drinkstore.ie