The first wine I ever drank was Liebfraumilch. Blue Nun with Sunday lunch; not so bad with chicken, not so great with roast beef. But then again, what did I know? It was the early ‘80s, I was living at home and only just emerging from childhood rations of crispy pancakes, boil in the bag curries and sandwich spread…
As the decade moved on, the French-adored Piat D’Or gave way to Beaujolais Nouveau, then Bridget Jones’s big-knicker Chardonnay, before today’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
Aromas and flavours of long lost treats are stored deep in our subconscious until stirred by a casual remark, television rerun or, as in this particular nostalgia-fest, a wine tasting. Back in the day I enjoyed my fair share of Beaujolais and Aussie Chardonnay, but drink neither very often now; not because I have fallen out of love with them necessarily, but time and our taste buds move on. As indeed has your decent Aussie Chardonnay.
No longer the raw oak, butter-basted alcohol bomb of yesteryear, the best Chardonnays from Australia are now often unoaked, or carry just the subtlest hint of sweet toasted wood. Less Dame Edna, more Nicole Kidman….
The McCormack and Co Chardonnay from Adelaide Hills was surprisingly pale lemon in appearance, suggesting a cool climate origin. An assumption backed up by the wine’s fresh, crisp acidity and aromas of crisp ripe nectarine. On the palate, flavours of fresh Granny Smith apples gave way to stone fruit; only the wine’s full body and alcohol finish betray its South Australian provenance.
Georges Dubeouf, “the king of Beaujolais”, is the biggest and usually one of the best producers of the global phenomenon that was Beaujolais Nouveau. Was, because although sales are recovering, they are around half of what they were when merchants and restaurants raced to get that year’s vintage on the shelf on the stroke of midnight on 15 November, providing much-needed cash flow to the producers.
The phenomenon came at a price, as the hype surrounding wines of often ordinary quality overshadowed the region’s traditional wines, especially the 10 Cru villages that produce wines with greater depth and complexity.
Juliénas is one of the largest Cru villages producing wines on the granite slopes in the north of this beautiful region of golden stoned villages and rolling hills. At its best Julieanas is a succulent, rich and deep coloured wine. The sample I tried was light ruby in colour, with red cherry, smoky aromas and raspberry and sour cherry flavours. All in all, a pleasant, fresh, crunchy summer red and a refreshing change served slightly chilled as if straight from the cellar. A perfect foil to charcuterie and a useful picnic wine when packed chilled, it doesn’t come to any harm as the temperature rises. That’s one of the many attractions of the world of wine; it can take you to places you only dreamed of, including back to the future!
David Harker is chief executive of Newcastle Wine School www.newcastlewineschool.co.uk
Juliénas 2012, Georges Duboeuf, £11.99 per bottle. Cormack & Co. Chardonnay 2014, Adelaide Hills, £11.99 per bottle. Buy six at £7.99 each.
Wine supplied by Majestic Wine Warehouse, Gosforth