Forced to revise my grape expectations!

Forced to revise my grape expectations!

Birmingham Hippodrome’s Judith Greenburgh finds herself re-evaluating Chardonnay as colleague Mandy Rose samples a red.

Despite having holidayed at our family home on the fringes of the great red wine Chateaux of the Bordeaux region since childhood, I am predominantly a white wine drinker meaning the opportunity to taste the white of the pairing was an eagerly anticipated pleasure.

But the big reveal of the Chardonnay label might as well have been worded ‘short straw’. Chardonnay, the world’s most famous grape, also conjured up the taste of oak and a preference that I had abandoned in favour of other varieties a decade ago.

This did not bode well. However, on researching the family-run over five generations Thierry Matrot vineyard in Meursault, I was delighted to learn that all use of chemicals had long-been abandoned and that the philosophy has been to produce organic wines since 2000 which closely reflect the terroir and vintage.

So without further ado, and to accompany a fragrant Kerala-inspired fish curry, we opened the bottle. The chilled, amber liquid seemed to hold the sides of the glass as if it knew it wasn’t long for this world.

This is an elegant white Burgundy and thankfully fairly free of the aromatic quality so often associated with oaked barrels. And it had some authority as an accompaniment to the mid-week supper dish but would probably come into its own with a lighter choice. While this wasn’t a Damascene conversion to a whole grape variety, it’s probably time for this household to re-think and re-visit Chardonnay.  

Matrot Bourgogne
Chardonnay 2013 £14.95
Thierry Matrot is based in the village of Meursault, and having taken over his family’s vineyards in the ‘80s has moved them towards greener methods of production and emphasising the elegance of white burgundy. More information can be found at their website

Having spent many years visiting Italy’s Umbria and Tuscany regions I have been privileged to have tasted quite a few Italian wines over that time. I prefer the full-bodied red, my particular favourite being Montepulciano which I first tasted in the medieval town of the same name not far from Sienna.

However because of my love for Italian wines I’ve not explored the delights of other countries so I was excited to try a bottle of French wine from one of the leading estates
in the southern Rhone. According to its website Arnoux et Fils was established in 1717 and over generations the domaine now extends to over 40 hectares of vines.

I was given the bottle on one of the coldest days of the year so gave it a couple of days to get to room temperature and boy was it worth it.   

The sound of the pour as it went into the wine glass was heavy, the colour a deep
dark rich red Mourvèdre and has the taste of plums with a slight hint of vanilla. It left a beautiful creamy chocolaty after taste in my mouth and it immediately made me think how good it would go with a quality smoked cheese at a dinner party.

This is a wine to be respected and I absolutely loved it. Move over Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, I’ll definitely be adding French fancy to my personal wine list.

Dom Arnoux et Fils
Vacqueyras Jean-Marie Arnoux 2011 £14.69.
Arnoux et Fils is one of the leading estates in the southern Rhone, situated right in the heart of the pretty village of Vacqueyras.

Successive generations have developed the domaine which now extends to over 40 hectares of vines spread over Vacqueyras and Gigondas. Operating on yields averaging only 28hl/ha their quality is exemplary whilst prices remain competitive.

This cuvee is 50% old vine and 50% younger vines from a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre and is wonderfully evolved with a rich plum/ damson fruit and terrific length and complexiity.

The white Matrot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013 is £14.95 and the red Dom Arnoux et Fils, Vacqueyras Jean-Marie Arnoux 2011 is £14.69. Wines were donated by Connolly’s Wine Merchants and can be brought from Dovehouse, Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, 379 – 381 Warwick Road, Olton, Solihull, B91 1BQ. Tel: 0121 709 3734
Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, Birmingham Livery Street, B3 1EU. Tel: 0121 236 3837