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Australian Chardonnay perfect for long winter nights and box set binges

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Hello, and a belated Happy New Year to you all. With the excitement of Christmas now a memory, I thought I’d recommend some wines that will make the long winter nights fly by.

The following selections are both warming and diverting and are just the perfect foil for box set binges. And speaking of foils, let’s rip the first one off and get to it.

First up is another offering from those clever fellows at Penfolds. The Koonunga Hill Chardonnay (Morrisons £10) offers a big glass of joy. The nose is a blend of red apples, citrus, and tropical fruits, tones that are reflected on the plump palate. What I really like about this wine is the complexity.

Koonunga Hill Chardonnay.
Koonunga Hill Chardonnay.

With fruit drawn from cool and warm sites and with careful use of oak, this wine combines richness and freshness in a very skilful way.

Next up is another striking white, Chapoutier’s ‘Les Moniers’ Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2019 (Majestic £12.99 down from £19.99 – buy a case now. It’s OK, I can wait). Chapoutier is one of the great names of the Rhône, and this is a superb example of one of their whites.

Made from the fresh, zesty, white berry-tasting Marsanne grape, give it some air, and it develops complex, nut, and dried pear notes with just a touch of green herbs. This is just the thing for a cheeseboard.

Kleine Zalze Project Z Sweet Fortified NV.
Kleine Zalze Project Z Sweet Fortified NV.

Next up is a curiously lovely little South African – and that’s just the bottle.

The Kleine Zalze Project Z (Harrogate Wines £31.99) is a lusciously decadent blend of Chenin, Muscat, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc that’s been fortified to leave a goodly dose of residual sugar.

It’s an enchanting wine. Offering everything from sultanas and peaches in syrup to honey and tangy orange zest, for sheer pleasure, this pips my encounter with Taylor’s 1955 vintage port (£480 MWH Wine) as my fortified wine of 2021.

And finally, a rollicking good red. I’ve written of my love of Chilean wines before, and I maintain that when it comes to value for money fine wines, Chile is a world leader.

This view was delightfully reinforced when I tasted the Wine Society’s Exhibition Carmenere (Wine Society £10.95).

As you may recall from your Wines of the World GCSE, Carmenere was once big in Bordeaux, but its tendency to rot led to plantings fading away. Chile, with its dry, cool climate, offers the ideal conditions for this impressive grape and has gifted us wines as lovely as this juicy plum and mulberry gem. Rich, ripe, and with all the hard edges of a blancmange soft play centre, with this is in your glass; you’ll wish those long winter nights would never end.

Right, time to mug up on my Australian wine knowledge; the annual tasting beckons, so more soon!

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