Brilliant French Chardonnay that's not from Burgundy?
This is really fine wine, perfectly made, balanced and fully representative of the grape variety and of the region: a true champion of Chardonnay. Delicious flavours of apple, citrus notes and delightfully integrated spice, this really does do all that you want a Chardonnay to do without the staggering price tags of other French regions.
The Haute Vallée Limoux, where these vineyards sit, are perfect for the 20-30 year old Chardonnay vines used here. Though close to the wilds of the Pyrénées, where they have 200 days of wind per annum, and the south cost of France where they have 300 days of sunshine and only 400 ml of rain, the cooler climate from the altitude of the specifically Chardonnay-generous limestone-rich soils, makes this the perfect place to grow it.
The wine is aged on lees for extra texture and then aged in French oak barrels, 30% of which are new, for 6 months. This is posh winemaking, usually an expense reserved for much more expensive wines.
This is the French wine-making project of Allotment-friend and Master Of Wine (and general good-bloke) Fergal Tynan. He's originally from Celbridge and now has fantastic and fanatic wine making projects across the globe. Never far from Grenache or Garnacha, this particular set of wines in France comes under the Terres Fidèles label, literally meaning "faithful lands", as a nod to authenticity, traditions and integrity of wine making styles. The team here have identified grape varieties that many others ignore in favour of middle-of-the-road commercialised styles; working with seriously small and tatty-looking plots of land, this is a labour of love and a project that will be years and years in the making before anyone makes any return on investment. But until then, we get the sensational fruit of their labours...!
The Montsablé range has two levels and this, the Réserve is the one we most think shows the skill of the winemaking as well as the gorgeous fruit from the vineyards. Yes, it's noted that Chardonnay is hardly a grape on the verge of neglect, but this is just part of the bigger picture for them. You'll have to look to the rest of their wines to find the 100-year-old Grenache and Grenache Blanc or Grenache Gris...
Region: Haute Vallée de L'Aude
Style: Svelte, Rich, Medium, Full, Fruity, Fleshy, Elegant, Dry, Creamy, Balanced
Best food matches: Trout, Shellfish, Seafood, Scallops, Oysters, Lobster, Cheeses, Baked Fish