“Oh, I was just offering you some wine… you ok?”
I didn’t come from a wine-drinking family. When I was a teenager, I made the novel suggestion to my dad that we should have wine with Christmas dinner. He marched down to the corner shop and asked the owner what he’d recommend. And came back with a bottle of Black Tower. A bizarre recommendation, but the owner of that shop was a Sikh and (by his own admission) had never touched alcohol in his life.
As you know, newsagent/minimart off licences are not generally the best places to buy wine. They stock cheaply produced brands sold to them for undiscerning customers. Fair enough, there’s a market for that. But I’ll get to the point… on a recent visit to a friend’s for Sunday dinner, I found myself without a bottle to bring and nowhere near anywhere other than his local offie.
Inevitably, there’s some pressure to turn up with something decent when you brand yourself as a Wine Ninja, so I was a bit concerned — but I presumed he wouldn’t notice if I avoided the most generic brands. Eventually, I opted for this Fat Bastard chardonnay (£10). At least if it tasted terrible, we could have a laugh at the name.
But… despite my reservations about the place of purchase (and gimmicks aside), this is a tasty tipple. And it wasn’t just me who thought so. Everyone who had a sip (and, let’s face it, everyone wants to tangle with the Fat Bastard) agreed.
It’s made with grapes from the Languedoc region of southern France. And, presumably, the name refers to its full-bodied nature, rather than the physiology of the winemaker (whom I sincerely hope is a jolly, plump Frenchman with a belly and a beret). Strong honey and white fruit flavours dominate, while a restrained use of oak adds a suggestion of vanilla. Time on the lees gives it a slightly bready structure, but there’s no malolactic fermentation (which is what tends to give chardonnays that creamy texture).
Don’t expect the finest Burgundian viticulture, but if you like chardonnay this’ll go brilliantly with a roast chicken — and it’s a great way to passive/aggressively annoy people you don’t like at dinner parties (“Fat Bastard?” “Excuse me?!” “Oh, just offering you some wine”). Maybe those corner shops aren’t so bad after all. Just make sure you save some for yourself.
4 NINJA STARS
Fat Bastard chardonnay, 2015. £10, at a corner shop near you. If you’re lucky