Terry Kirby finds there is still charm in Chardonnay, despite the attempts of many to ruin it

Chardonnay has become one of the most popular grapes in the world, although its reputation has been damaged by over-the-top oak ageing. Here are three judiciously made dinner party wines that demonstrate the grape’s lightness and subtlety...

From France

Arnaud Aucoeur Vieilles Vignes 2015, Beaujolais Villages

This is deceptive and beguiling – Chardonnay in its original European home, carefully made, with not a trace of oak, allowing the minerality and fruit flavours to shine clearly through. But there is a fuller feel and depth coming from the older vines, and flavours linger on the palate. Ideal for mussels or other shellfish.

£12.50 yapp.co.uk

From Australia 

Bird in Hand Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, 2015

Do not assume this is characteristic of the trademark Aussie New World Chardonnay, because there is a refinement here that derives from grapes grown in a cool climate and a carefully restrained use of oak. Big, peach and apricot flavours, but smooth, elegant and balanced. Reserve for full-flavoured prime fish, like brill or turbot. 

£17.50 tanners-wines.co.uk

From South Africa 

Newton Johnson Southend Chardonnay 2015

From a classy producer to the south of Cape Town, barrel fermented and aged, this is the richest and fullest of the three wines. But it retains a freshness and purity from grapes grown at altitude in a coastal climate, with sea breezes and cool nights. An ideal match for roast chicken or pork belly, as well as robust fish dishes.

£14.99 laithwaites.co.uk