This week I got up close and personal with a cleanskin … a 2008 Geelong chardonnay from down Bannockburn way (not too far from the city of the Cats).

It is, I’m reliably told, made by award-winning winemaker Scott Ireland at Provenance Wines, who proves that, at about 15 bucks a bottle, he really knows his chardonnay (and probably his pinot gris, shiraz and pinot noir, which are also housed in the Provenance stable). This one is great value for money.

Yeah, a cleanskin … a tidy epidermis if you will.

I couldn’t help but lurch into the Seinfeld territory of my consciousness at the thought of that — it was the puffy shirt episode in which George Costanza embarked on an ill-fated hand-modelling career and had this exchange with his parents, Frank and Estelle:

“All right! Please, please! I cannot have this constant bickering … Stress is very damaging to the epidermis! Now, I have an important photo session in the morning — my hands have got to be in tip-top shape, so please — keep the television down, and the conversation to a minimum.”

Well, stress is the last thing that comes to mind with this cleanskin — quite the contrary — although bickering over the last glass may come into play. The colour is a relaxing pale gold (not too deep, mind) and on the nose I snorted some apple peel (no, fair dinkum, it was there for a while), a bit of peach (or thereabouts … maybe it was nectarine … I’m not a big fruit eater so what would I know?) and plenty of melons (as a drooling Homer Simpson would say, “mmm, melons”). And although I’m not wont to use this expression when I am talking wine, the mouthfeel was, well, another highlight; hints of vanilla, a little bit of acidity and then a backed-off buttery flavour. I hope that doesn’t sound too over the top. If it does, tough, that’s my call.

The bottom line is, it’s a bloody good-tasting wine … and after all, isn’t that why we drink the stuff?

But this cleanskin kicked another goal (from well outside the 50-metre arc). I’ve been having a thing of late with smoked ocean trout, which is less oily than smoked salmon and has a better texture, and it was the food match for the chardonnay on the night.

To whit: a couple of slabs of really good, toasted sourdough bread (with some big seeds), spread (OK liberally crumbled) with plenty of Meredith goat’s fetta (from a jar with herbs and some garlic in the oil), a handful of rocket leaves (a bloke’s gotta have his greens), a few slabs of the said ocean trout (10 bucks will get you a quarter of a kilo at the South Melbourne Market), some lemon-infused olive oil and a big handful of fresh dill and it was done and dusted with a glass or three of  the cleanskin.

I had seven courses with matching wines at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze the weekend before last (I did my bit to save it from liquidation, but apparently, after a turnover of more than $14 million and 315,000 customersfor the year, I failed miserably) and, frankly, the trout and this chardonnay were as good a match as anything I had courtesy of he of the lesser vocabulary (that means he’s a potty mouth and swears a bit). OK, the wines at Maze, with respect to Scott Ireland, were better than the chardonnay (so they should be at those prices) — but I’m talking food and wine matches here, so bugger off if it’s criticism you’ve got on your mind. Seriously, the ocean trout and the chardonnay were like a well-adjusted marriage. OK, that’s a big call, but you get the drift.

I bought the Geelong chardonnay from Vintage Cellars. I dunno if it’s in huge supply, but give it a try … you won’t regret it. Fifteen bucks is, after all, not the end of the world.

As George Costanza once said: “You’re telling me wine is better than Pepsi. No way wine is better than Pepsi.”

Sorry George, but this cleanskin (tidy epidermis if you will) is, unlike your short-lived hand-modelling career, a winner hands down.

*Follow @mickthesub1 on Twitter and at his blog A Single’s Survival Guide

Peter Fray

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