Chardonnay & Pinot Noir - Burgundy & Beyond
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir make the greatest single-variety whites and reds in the world.
Alternative cases can be made for Riesling and Nebbiolo (Piedmont’s Pinot), but they won’t wash with me. When asked what we specialise in as wine merchants, we tend to think of regions first, for example Languedoc-Roussillon and South Africa. However, reflection leads one to these two grapes.
Leaving aside Burgundy, which we cover from Chablis to Pouilly-Fuissé, we offer wines from both grapes from an extraordinary array of international talent. Chardonnays from Des Dieux and Chamonix in South Africa are Cape benchmarks; François Massoc, who crafts the Pandolfi Price wines, is arguably the finest maker of Chardonnay in Chile. Similarly for Pinots – we list top wines from Nigel Greening’s Felton Road in Central Otago and Francisco Baettig’s brilliant team at Errazuriz in Aconcagua in Chile, both the finest Pinot producers in their respective countries; plus the historic wines from the tiny Ashton Hills estate in the Adelaide Hills. And we have some growers, not just in Burgundy, who are brilliant at making both varieties, for example Franco d’Anna at Hoddles Creek in the Yarra Valley. To these we add others below: Pinots from Avant Garde and Sebastiani in California, plus Pasji Rep in Slovenia and Johner in Baden; and splendid barrel-fermented Chardonnays from Begude in Limoux and Quails’ Gate in the Okanagan Valley in Canada.
Do set aside any preconceptions about Burgundies being restrained and subtle and new world Chardonnays and Pinots by contrast, being flamboyant, over-oaked and too alcoholic: our four Australian Chardonnays have an average alcohol level of under 13%. Ditto the clichés that Burgundy needs to be aged for years before drinking and new world wines won’t last.
What our selection shows is that the vine-growing world has become incredibly diverse – and, if tasting blind, even experienced tasters would struggle to place many of these wines in the old or new world, let alone one country.