Wine & Dine

CHARDONNAY IS DEAD, LONG LIVE CHARDONNAY

Long derided as boring, the white wine is making a comeback as more winemakers go easy on the oak and opt for fruit from cooler climates. We pick our favourites from the New and Old World

- WORDS LIN WEIWEN

Long derided as boring, the white wine is making a comeback as more winemakers go easy on the oak and opt for fruit from cooler climates. We pick our favourites from the New and Old World

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA WINERY, DIAMOND COLLECTION, CHARDONNAY 2017

Monterey County, California

Coppola, the semi-retired director of seminal films such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, isn’t new to the wine business, having purchased his first California­n wine property in the mid-1970s. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County is his latest estate, which he opened in 2010. The Chardonnay from the entry-level Diamond Collection is made from fruit from the cool climate region of Monterey County. With lees contact and a gentle nine-month slumber in French oak, the wine is easy-drinking, offering notes of peach and apple, and a balanced textural profile of creamy touches and slightly crisp acidity.

$59, from Hermitage Quality Wines. Tel: 6438 1120

DOMAINE FAIVELEY, PULIGNYMON­TRACHET PREMIER CRU, ‘CHAMP GAIN’ 2016

Côte de Beaune, Burgundy

Puligny-Montrachet in Côte de Beaune produces some of Burgundy’s most concentrat­ed Chardonnay­s. Little surprise that Domaine Faiveley decided to acquire the Premier Cru ‘Champ Gain’ parcel in 2014. Owing to mixed weather conditions for 2016, harvest was done later than usual to let the grapes reach optimum ripeness. Frequent batonnage was applied before the wine was aged for 17 to 18 months in French oak. There is a good tension in this youthful wine, which can benefit from ageing. But even now, it offers an enjoyable sip, thanks to its citrusy perfume and delicious notes of figs and toasted bread.

$118, from Grand Vin. Tel: 6465 3081

STELLA BELLA, LUMINOSA, CHARDONNAY 2017

Margaret River, Western Australia

Margaret River has been producing some of Australia’s best Chardonnay­s—the wines often toe the line between dense fruit and steely acidity, a profile that is shaping up to be the next distinctiv­e style of Aussie Chardies. Stella Bella’s Luminosa exemplifie­s this balanced style of Chardonnay. 2017 was a slightly cooler than usual vintage, which allowed the fruit to build ripeness at low sugar levels and develop its crisp acidity. Malolactic fermentati­on is eschewed so there isn’t the creaminess found in richer Chardonnay­s out there. This approach has allowed the wine’s grapefruit and minerally notes, along with its sea-spray aroma, to shine. Acidity is tight, slicing through the smooth mid-palate with a little verve. Pair this with fresh salmon or a chicken salad.

$91, from Enoteca. Tel: 6836 3068

LAURENT PONSOT, MEURSAULT BLAGNY PREMIER CRU, CUVÉE DU MYOSOTIS 2016

Côte de Beaune, Burgundy

In 2017, Laurent Ponsot announced that he was leaving his prestigiou­s family domaine to set up his eponymous négociant venture with his eldest son, Clement, in Burgundy. It was a bold move, considerin­g that he had been at his family estate for more than 30 years. Ponsot’s astute understand­ing of Burgundy terroir has come in handy in his new adventure as grape buyer and winemaker.

At a tasting earlier this year, we were impressed by Ponsot’s offerings— many of them were precise and expressive. One such wine was the Cuvée du Myosotis 2016. The straw-yellow wine is fermented only in stainless steel tanks, resulting in a clean, restrained take on Chardonnay. On the palate, floral, minerally and citrusy notes wrap around a taut line of acidity. A few of its secondary notes of nuts and spices don’t seem completely integrated yet, though. It’s still a young vino after all: cellar this for a few more years and let it blossom.

$210, from Wine Clique. Tel: 6253 4190

PENFOLDS BIN 311, CHARDONNAY 2018

Adelaide Hills, Tumbarumba, Tasmania; Australia

For fans of Penfolds’ Bin 311 Chardonnay, the latest vintage should offer no surprises. Stylistica­lly, the wine retains its cool climate DNA, although this is the second vintage to source fruit from multiple regions— Tumbarumba, which provided the wine’s sole source of fruit in the past; Adelaide Hills; and Tasmania. The inclusion of Tasmania is timely (it comprises about 25 percent in the blend), given the region’s increasing­ly important role as a place for cool climate, acid-driven fruit. Barrel-fermented and aged in French oak barriques for 10 months, the wine is fresh and lithe, offering a minerally, acidic attack, and following up with notes of grapefruit, mint, peach, and citrus. A subtle buttery aroma emerges after the wine is allowed to breathe. The wine drinks nicely now but we would stash a few bottles in the cellar.

$70, from www.thecellar.sg

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