Chardonnay is a little like the marmite of the wine world. Loved by some, detested by others. There’s a few reasons for this; oak ageing isn’t for everyone, and the popularity for Chardonnay a few years back created a demand for producers to offer lots of Chardonnay at relatively cheap prices. Proper oak aging (letting the wine mature in big oak barrels for a period of time before bottling) is expensive, so it goes without saying that to get cheap prices, some corners had to be cut.
Chardonnay can be a beautiful wine, however, and it certainly doesn’t deserve the bad rep some give it. A good defender of the wine is Latour’s Ardeche.
It is actually a lovely, delicate wine because, despite what I just said about Chardonnay being famous for its oak, it doesn’t have to be oak-aged to considered Chardonnay. There are plenty of truly stunning wines out there that have very little, even zero, oak.
It’s a French wine (if the name didn’t give it away!) from producers Maison Latour, made in the Ardeche region, which can be found in in the southern part of Rhône Valley.
Retailing at around £9 a bottle, making it a great option for vegans looking for a weeknight treat. For those watching their wine strength, it has an ABV of 13%. Not too strong, but not too weak, either.
I bought my bottle from Slurp Wines in Leamington Spa, but it’s also available in Waitrose, Majestic, and a few others.
Appearance-wise, it’s a nice, pale lemony gold colour – deeper than a Sauvignon Blanc, but not as richly coloured as a heavy, oaky Chardonnay. That’s a good start.
Like most white wines, it’s dry, with good acidity, which is what gives you that refreshing, lip-smacking mouthfeel after swallowing. A delicately floral nose of apples, white peach, pear and a little bit of grape (ironic, eh?) builds up excitement for tasting it.
Drunk on it’s own, it has a medium to full-bodied, slightly creamy texture; crisp, but not too tart, with more flavours of fresh, slightly underripe white peach and nectarine. Overall, very, very drinkable! Chardonnay is not my go-to white wine, but I’m starting to reconsider that now…
Potential food pairings: good news, unoaked Chardonnay is super versatile, and goes with pretty much everything. It pairs beautifully with things like olives and bread for a starter, and the level of sweetness and acidity in it would make a nice match for slightly spicy dishes, such as mild curries.
I had mine with vegan “fish and chips” and spicy kale, which worked really well because the crispness cut through the thickness of homemade batter and the kick from the chilli nicely. As it was my first, somewhat shoddy attempt at making the dish, I thought it would be best for everyone if I didn’t subject you to the horrendous photos.
I’ll be trying to recreate the fish and chips again soon, though, so will post a recipe and photos when it looks a little more… photogenic…
Have you tried Louis Latour Ardeche? Let me know what you thought of it!
[EDIT] Almost exactly a year later, I did indeed succeed in making a rather nice looking homemade vegan fish and chips! This time, it was served with a surprisingly good Crémant from Aldi. This vegan sparkling wine, was also from France, and also 100% Chardonnay. Another nice match!