From all accounts unoaked Chardonnay is enjoying increasing commercial success locally but I remain bemused by it.
Take the 2013 vintage of The First Lady from Warwick in Stellenbosch (R75 a bottle). Named in honour of the property’s matriarch Norma Ratcliffe, the back label explains that it was “deliberately crafted with a fruit-driven style in mind” and there’s indeed plenty of lemon and yellow peach in evidence.
The thing is its rather rich and broad and in addition to all that fruit, there’s quite a lot of yeasty complexity. Technically, it’s more than sound but I’m not sure what the drinking occasion is supposed to be – it lacks that lean and pithy quality of Chablis and if you’re looking for extra dimension then why not go the whole hog and drink wooded Chardonnay?