"Peach. Melon. A touch of vanilla. Citrus, of course. There's always citrus. But what citrus? A medium body and a complex palate and a long finish. Goes nicely with fish or chicken or pasta. Drink in moderation. Dispose of the bottle thoughtfully."
Why is it always peaches and melons? To me, chardonnay never tasted like a peach. Nor did the last peach I ate taste like chardonnay.
The best chardonnay I ever drank tasted like a book. Or I should say, it tasted like a book smelled. It had the aroma of faint print on the fine paper of a new book fresh from the printer's.
Throughout childhood, the first thing I did in a new school year was to open up my new books - fresh from Campion or Hall's - and smell the pages. These smells were indefinable, but wonderful. A Form Three social studies book had creamy matte paper printed with red chapter headings and 75% black type and line drawings and exuded a rich, creamy aroma; something like slowly-evaporating vanilla essence into which three drops of Chanel No. 5 had been infused. Other books had completely different, but equally alluring aromas. Some hardbacks had a tobacco smokiness combined with a creamy parchment richness. My annual summer Puffin paperbacks - they were my staple Christmas gift throughout the 1960s - were set in Juliana and had cross-hatched illustrations and, when brand new, smelled of satin or velvet ribbons in a girl's hair, or the colour gold. Some coffee table books with full-page colour gravure photographs produced an aromatic cocktail of purple and vermilion and magenta.
It is these remembered aromas that came to mind when drinking very good chardonnay.
Forget the peaches, wine writers. If I want peaches I'll drink a bellini. A bellini always tastes like peaches.