A little while ago, Hardys challenged me to lead a blind taste test with six different bottles of Chardonnay and discover really what it is all about. I am more of a Pinot Grigio drinker myself normally as I have always thought of Chardonnay has being a bit boring. However, Chardonnay is having a renaissance in the UK and is the number one selling white wine in the world. In 1990, the number of litres that were exported to the UK from Austrailia was 7.7m btts and this has now grown to 340.9m btts in 2012.
As I cannot taste test six bottles of Chardonnay by myself, (although I would give it a good go!) I invited my mom and stepdad along for dinner and the wine tasting. Stuart was given the job as chief wine pourer once I covered up the labels with tin foil so no one except for myself, knew which wine was which. I deliberately kept the food simple to allow the wine to be the star and because of having two young children, I do not really have the time for elaborate dinner parties anymore. We had rosemary and garlic focaccia to start, followed by roast chicken, new potatoes and salad and to finish, a mixed berry crumble and custard. I actually forgot to take pictures of the food (too much wine LOL!) so you will just have to cope with pictures of wine bottles instead.
The six bottles of Chardonnay are listed below in the order that we tasted them. I have included the our tasting comments for each bottle too.
Stamp Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir NV
They say: ‘house style of sparkling wine, showing complexity, flavour, softness and elegance.’
We say: ‘dry and crisp flavour’ ‘delicious – can I have some more please’
VR Chadonnay 2013
They say: ‘The Varietal Range (VR) is made up of uncomplicated, everyday wines that display true varietal character’
We say: ‘not too dry’ ‘most innocuous’ ‘rich and peachy’
Stamp Chardonnay/Semillon 2012
They say: ‘The Stamp range showcases the winemaker’s passion and skill for blending grape varieties from diverse regions’
We say: ‘very clear’ ‘not very exciting’ ‘a bit boring’ ‘floral’
Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2013
They say: ‘The range is known for its consistency, approachable style and balance’
We say: ‘excellent’ ‘very dry’ ‘my favourite so far’
William Hardy Chardonnay 2013
They say: ‘This range highlights Bill’s passion for blending wines. Bill is the chief winemaker and figurehead of Hardy’s today’
We say: ‘less dry and quite clear in colour’ ‘bland’ ‘not as good as previous one’
HRB Chardonnay 2010
They say: ‘It displays the typically vibrant characters of Pemberton combined with the with the wonderfully zesty, citrus flavours from the Yarra Valley to produce a fully flavoured yet restrained and elegent cool climate Chardonnay.’
We say: ‘very strong smell and taste’ ‘very overpowering’ ‘don’t like this at all’
Overall, we were all very surprised at how different one bottle was from the next. Who knew that bottles of Chardonnay could taste so diffrerent? Bar from the first sparkling bottle, the bottles were drank in price order from low to high with the lowest price bottle starting at £6.49 with the most expensive one at £16. I had already guessed from the label that the last one was the most expensive one and I thought I would love it. However, it was our least favourite and the most overpowering in flavour. It just goes to show that price is not everything! I will definitely look at Chardonnay now and will not always go to my default choice of Pinot Grigio every time I want to order or buy white wine.
Why don’t you try a few different bottles of Chardonnay and see if you look at it differently too?
If you would like to cook with white wine (and not just drink it!) then check out these amazing recipes:
French onion soup with comte cheese toasts
Pasta in a creamy mushroom and white wine sauce
Lemon and Basil Chicken
Pan fried John Dory with creamy mushroom and white wine sauce
Disclosure: I received 7 bottles of Hardy’s Chardonnay for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own or my fellow tasters.