Remember those Aussie Chardonnays that tasted like they’d spent five years maturing in barrels made from recently creosoted telegraph poles?
If the answer is yes, it’s most likely because you are as old as I am.
These days our Antipodean cousins seem to have got a lot cleverer with their wine-making.
Great value from the foothills
McWilliam’s Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2014
£12 from M&S
McWilliam’s Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2014, which is new to the shelves at M&S, being a case in point.
Tumbarumba, according to the McWilliam’s website, is “Tucked away in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains halfway between Sydney and Melbourne”.
It is relatively new as a wine region, the first vines being planted in the early 80s, and it is an alpine region with a cool climate meaning it’s good for Burgundian grape varieties.
Which explains why this Chardonnay is very Chablis-esque. In fact it tastes like very good Chablis, with the added benefit that it’s a damn sight cheaper.
It is bone dry, with a steely acidity, lots of minerality and flavours of Granny Smith apple, citrus, ginger and vanilla. There’s a bit of oak toast too but it’s very subtle. Very good, not cheap but good value for your money.
Smooth and fruity
Convey Priorat 2013
£10 from Morrisons
Staying with the new to the shelves theme, Morrisons has Convey Priorat 2013, which, at £10 on the nose, is also good value.
A blend of mainly Grenache, with some Carignan, it is smooth and well balanced but with raspberries and brambles and some mouth-filling tannins.
Barbi Merlot Sangiovese 2014
£8.99 at Majestic
And new at Majestic is Barbi Merlot Sangiovese 2014, a modern tasting but still distinctly Italian, medium bodied red from Umbria. This too shows a nice balance. It is spicy, with cherry, raspberry and a nice freshness.