All the cool kids prefer their Chardonnay unoaked now, right? That seems to be the conventional wisdom, but the array of oaked, ‘New World’ Chardonnays still adorning the shelves means I can’t be the only one who still likes this style.
Of course, perfection is found in the many great white wines of Burgundy, where flavours from the grapes, lees and oak develop into a divine symphony after a few years in the bottle. These wines are more elegant, complex and frankly, sexier than the heavier, riper style which flowed from Australia in the 90’s and continues to be emulated by regions such as California and Mendoza. But many of us buy this style because great Burgundy is in short supply and, to most of us, prohibitively expensive except perhaps as a very occasional treat.
Speaking of pricing, Trivento’s Chardonnay Reserve is normally priced at £8.99, but I managed to pick this one up for £5.99. I suspect the discount is predominantly to do with its age – the 2013 vintage is coming up to two years old, and it’s probably not a wine designed for ageing. Effectively, I was buying a ‘bin end’.
But actually, it was decent value at the offer price. There is a touch of ‘volatile acidity’, which presents itself not on the palate, but as an aroma, one which is often likened to banana. It’s almost drifting into the stronger, much more difficult to tolerate, ‘nail polish’ variant of this aroma, but mercifully stopping just short. There is also some tropical fruit on the nose, largely non-descript, with the occasional, subtle whiff of pineapple. The oak is present too, but because it enveloped the wine for just three months, it’s quite delicate.
The tropical fruit is a major component of the ‘attack’ (what you first taste), as well as some surprising acidity, given the abv of 14%. The tropical fruit drifts away and you’re left with the acid’s appley taste* for a surprisingly long finish.
So this is a fruit salad wine. The drawback is a lack of precision and harmony, and although it’s still pleasant enough to drink, I suspect it would have tasted better 6-12 months ago. Wineontrial wouldn’t recommend paying full price for the 2013 vintage, but also wouldn’t bet against the next one being worth it, when it first appears.
*Atypically for the style, this wine appears not to have undergone full malolactic fermentation. This is a part of the fermention process over which the winemaker has some control. The natural malic acid of the grapes brakes down into lactic acid. Malic acid is also found in apples, and funnily enough, tastes of apples. Lactic acid is the type found in milk, and has a slightly ‘creamier’ taste and ‘feel’.