Poor old chardonnay. Few other white grapes have been such victims of fashion, buffeted by the whims of winemakers and popular taste. Back in the '80s chardonnay was all about buttery richness - remember Rosemount Roxburgh? Then, in the '90s, unwooded chardonnay was all the rage, and our bottle shop fridges were suddenly stacked with anaemic wines made from young vines.
In the noughties, the pendulum swung back to chardonnays with more complexity, thanks to more mature vineyards (older vines tend to produce grapes with more satisfying flavours) and more involved but restrained winemaking techniques such as lees stirring (agitating the sediment of spent yeast cells that lie on the bottom the barrel). Now, though, some are wondering whether the pendulum hasn't swung too far: the latest trend, especially in cooler places such as southern Victoria and the high country of NSW, is to pick grapes earlier (at, say 11 or 12 per cent potential alcohol) and make wines that winemakers may describe as "minerally" but some punters describe as "austere" or "tart".
The trick is to drink these leaner, modern styles of chardonnay with food that will bring out the wine's inherent depth of flavour. This salad - with the subtle oiliness of the trout and the lemony creaminess and herbal lift of the dressing - is just the kind of dish you need.
A salad of smoky trout, herbs and a creamy lemon dressing bring out all the complex flavours of a modern chardonnay.