Chardonnay can be made in many styles. There's the austerity and minerality of Chablis or the richness of an aged Burgundy. Then there's the green fruit of many Old World Chardonnays or the ripe tropical fruit of New World ones. But perhaps the biggest difference - and the one that polarises many people and created the ABC or Anything But Chardonnay movement - is whether the wine is fermented and/or matured in oak barrels or doesn't see any oak at all.
I don't have a preference although I'm not a big fan of the vanilla laden heavily oaked versions that often come out of California and used to be the dominant style in Australia. However thanks to some samples sent by Seven Springs in South Africa it is possible to get the best of both worlds from the one producer.
Want a hint of fruit on the nose underpinned by lemons with a fresh light palate of peachy fruit perfectly balanced with enough acidity to make this an appealing fresh and drinkable wine? Then go for the unoaked Chardonnay.
If you fancy a creamy nose with a similarly creamy palate with spice, tropical fruit and enough acidity to perfectly balance the use of oak giving the creamy palate then the 2010 Chardonnay is the one for you. This is a very well structured wine.
Which did I prefer? I tasted the 2011 in the garden before dinner (see picture) and it was ideal as an aperitif. This was then followed by the 2010 alongside a creamy risotto, a perfect match.
The best of both worlds.