Look­ing for a fes­tive white? Give chardon­nay a sec­ond chance

The Guardian - Feast - - News - Fiona Beck­ett

In line with last week’s phi­los­o­phy of par­ing down your Christ­mas wine op­tions, I’m go­ing to fo­cus on just one white this week: chardon­nay. No, don’t groan! It’s easy to for­get how de­li­cious chardon­nay can be. Do you like ch­ablis? Or chas­sagne-mon­tra­chet? Well, there you are. Even if you like the kind of chardon­nay that puts off peo­ple who don’t like chardon­nay – namely, full-bod­ied chardon­nay with a good lick of oak – there is a place for it at Christ­mas.

If your tastes run to leaner whites, ch­ablis is your best bet, and from a re­cent vin­tage, too, for max­i­mum fresh­ness – 2016 and 2017 were both good years. Own-la­bel petit ch­ablis and ch­ablis both of­fer solid value, and go with any­thing fishy, es­pe­cially oys­ters and other shell­fish; they’re also weirdly good with ham (yes, re­ally).

If you prefer a slightly fuller, creamier style and haven’t got a chas­sagne-mon­tra­chet bud­get (though, if you have, the Co-op has a re­mark­ably good 13% one from Château de La Mal­troye for £39.99 in its big­ger branches), the best value is to be found in the Mâ­con­nais in ap­pel­la­tions such as Viré-Clessé and Mâ­con-Ver­gis­son.

You can also find el­e­gant chardon­nays from Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and even Aus­tralia, much vil­i­fied in the past for its over-oaked chardies. If you’re the kind who likes a Christ­mas Eve fish pie (me, too), you want a glass of chardon­nay with it. It’s also good with the turkey, if you don’t fancy a red. And it should be chardon­nay all the way with the left­overs, whether that’s turkey and tar­ragon pie or old-school turkey tetrazz­ini. You could even drink it with Anna Jones’ squash, chest­nut and black gar­lic tart this week, al­though I’ve got an­other sug­ges­tion for that.

If you’re still a res­o­lute chardon­nay-phobe, look for ones from the Jura, be­cause they have a savoury, al­most nutty edge that makes them a good partner for cheeses such as comté, gruyère or even a vacherin mont d’or. Sains­bury’s has a de­cent Côtes du Jura un­der its Taste the Dif­fer­ence la­bel for £11.

And don’t for­get blanc de blancs – that is, cham­pagne and sparkling wine made from white (usu­ally chardon­nay) grapes – though

I re­alise that’s cheat­ing a bit be­cause they’re fizz. Ob­vi­ously, they’re per­fect for canapés, but they’ll also go with shell­fish, smoked sal­mon and any­thing deep-fried – for in­stance, the emer­gency fish and chips when you get fed up with all the Christ­mas cook­ing. Good co­gnac + boozy cho­co­late and herb liqueurs + cin­na­mon + fruit juice + grena­dine (for colour) + lime (to bal­ance the sweet­ness) = Christ­mas in a glass.

To make the syrup, put the wa­ter, cin­na­mon and clove in a pan, bring to a boil, then sim­mer for eight to 10 min­utes. Re­move and dis­card the spices, stir in the su­gar un­til dis­solved, then boil down to a thick syrup. Leave to cool, then store in a ster­ilised jar or bot­tle.

To make the drink, mea­sure the brandy, liqueurs, syrup, pear juice, lime juice and grena­dine into a blender, add crushed ice and blitz for a minute. Pour into a wine glass and gar­nish with a cin­na­mon shard. Sil­viu Stan, di­rec­tor of bars and lounge, The Rubens at The Palace Ho­tel, Lon­don SW1

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