Everyone can commit to 20 minutes, especially if there's a glass of Chardonnay afterwards.

Kate Winslet

Well hello 2019, and after all the excesses of the season, I thought we could start the year off with a glass or two of clean refreshing Chardonnay. It is of course the great white grape of Burgundy, where it produces a wide range of styles depending on the influence of the soil and oak, but nowadays, it’s a mainstay variety for the entire wine-producing world. I know it became a grape to be mocked by the luvvies when television soaps featured characters named after it, but you could have named the entire cast of Geordie Shore after it and it wouldn't have turned me away from what is a fabulous grape. Someone once said that Pinot Noir was a white masquerading as a red while Chardonnay was a red masquerading as a white and that quote sums it up quite well.

I've taken quite a liking to many of the light fruity and often unoaked styles from the New World that are easy to enjoy, especially on a summer barbecue but my real passion is for the oaky versions because Chardonnay takes to oak like a duck to water. In addition to a little colour, the oak can impart a range of flavours from toasty nuts to buttered crumpets but as with everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. Overoaked Chardonnay is like a migraine in a glass to me and can often taste too heavy, especially given that my eyes see a white wine and tell my brain to expect a light taste, so I can see where the earlier quote comes from.

The type of oak is important as well, with French oak barrels giving a more gentle defined effect while too much relaxing in American oak makes the wine fat and chewy, which is far more acceptable for Shiraz than it is for Chardonnay. That said, some of the best oaked versions come from California these days and a skilled winemaker using the ripest fruits is able to play with the ageing like a maestro musician. But don't aim for the cheap seats folks; California aside, the best in the world still come from Burgundy and you really haven't lived until you've experienced a yellowing buttery Batard Montrachet, so if you are writing up a New Year bucket list, find space for that entry.

Having expressed my love for the Californians and Burgundians, it’s probably going to be something of a surprise when I tell you that my current favourite Chardonnays are actually from South Africa, a country producing some very good Burgundian lookalikes for a fraction of the cost of the real thing. Anyway, it’s time for me to liberate a cork or two and say pip pip until next week.

Glenelly Estate Reserve Chardonnay

I was delighted to see the team at Ten Acre wines listing this gorgeous white. It’s rich, nutty and quite complex with hints of lemons and apples on the finish. Great with any seafood.

Ten Acre Wines £17.50

Exquisite Limestone Coast Chardonnay

I keep coming back to this incredible value range but hey, when your on a winner, why not. It's got figs, pineapple and honey with clean fresh acidity on the finish. Seriously well done Aldi, .

Aldi £5.79