Chardonnay – Should we wood? What do Sumo Wrestlers, gymnasts and Chardonnays have in common? I like balance – Sumo Wrestlers and gymnasts both have balance. Without balance, they would be rather ungainly and awkward, with an inappropriate reputation and appeal. The same goes for fine wines – balance is imperative, especially when we consider wines that are fermented or matured in oak barrels – the balance of fruit, acidity and wood must be considered and appropriate. Irrespective of how “heavy” the wine is, balance is the key to a great wine. Then along comes an un-oaked Chardonnay, and provides balance without the traditional wooded element. Now, some Chardonnay purists (especially from the 1990’s) would be spitting oak splinters at the thought of a Chardonnay without that massive oak influence – it’s a bit like having Roast Beef without Yorkshire Pudding. But, as I mentioned in January, big-hitting, over-wooded Chardonnays are long gone, to have been replaced by wines with a refined balance of oak, acidity and fruit, so bravo for that. But still, a completely naked, un-oaked Chardonnay? Well, Riana van der Merwe at Seven Springs makes Chardonnays for both schools; and they both have exceptional character, quality and balance, with or without spending time in barrels. It was, in fact, a condition of her employment that she must make these two wines, one with, and one without oak. I was fortunate enough to accompany Mr Gould on his recent visit to Seven Springs, and equally fortunate to taste both these Chardonnays in the presence of this young, gifted, passionate winemaker. We were so impressed with the quality of both wines, we’ve given them equal billing as our Wine of The Month. Don’t take our word for it, try them for yourself – we’ve put together a special mixed case of the oaked and un-oaked Seven Springs Chardonnays that you can buy exclusively – you’ll find them in the Seven Springs entry in the abuzzWine catalogue. I’ve also had the delightful task of selecting 5 more Chardonnays, oaked and un-oaked. This selection is also exclusively available to you, dear reader, through abuzzWine. If you want to order this Nick’s Pick case, you can have one each of these five, and let us know which of the Seven Springs Chardonnays you would like to add to complete your case of six bottles. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.