Over the past few years we have witnessed the most remarkable change in premium Australian chardonnay. Gone are the days when every winemaker chased the fat, golden, oak-lavished chardonnay style (remember Rosemount Roxburgh? Remember Renmano Chairmans Selection?). Now the pendulum has swung right over to the opposite extreme: it's now de rigeur in chardonnay circles to pick the grapes much earlier, to ferment and mature the wine in old oak barrels and to prevent the malolactic fermentation - the microbiological process that can produce creamy, buttery characters in white wines. While this newer trend towards leaner, lighter, more minerally chardonnays is generally a good one - the wines have a brightness and refreshing quality to them that the golden oldies often lacked - the new-wave wines sometimes come unstuck when it comes time to eat. Yes, they're great with seafood (especially shellfish and oysters and mussels and yabbies), but their leanness means that richer, fuller dishes can overwhelm the wine. So for this deliciously savoury recipe, full of the roundness of cauliflower and cheese and mustard, I'd opt for a slightly more old-fashioned, fuller-bodied chardonnay. Luckily, there are still a few souls sticking to the old style, not getting sucked into the modern trend, keeping the flame alive.
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