To oak or not to oak,,, Chardonnay is the question. There was a time when I would have laughed at the idea of any unoaked chardonnay unless it had Chablis on the label, and of course there was a time when Chablis was the standard term to be used for unwooded whites around the world until the French said ‘Non’ and secured protection for the style. I’ve often thought the unoaked versions are chardonnays in name only, but once I got over myself, I started to enjoy them for what they are which is easy drinking tropical fruit delights. As well as presenting an easier drinking and perhaps more modern style, unoaked chardonnays are generally cheaper to produce because decent oak ain't cheap folks and yet, my heart still draws me back to butter and vanilla.

I guess it comes down to the occasion and if it’s a light fruity aperitif or something to accompany an afternoon salad in a sunny climate then I'll go for no wood but if it’s to partner something more interesting than a lettuce leaf or to sit by the fire with then I want the wine to have seen enough oak to make a sideboard with. Its Chardonnays almost uniquely eccentric reaction to oak that makes the magic. It takes to wood like a squirrel to nuts and sucks the life out of it while undergoing a transformation like no other.

Anyway, the moral of this column is to re engage with Chardonnay this year and learn to love both styles. When the sun is splitting the trees and your lunch looks like the inside of a rabbit hutch, go unoaked but when you want an evening treat or something to impress the neighbours, go traditional folks.

Stellenbosch Chardonnay, Rustenberg

You could easily be fooled into believing you were in Montrachet when you taste this stunner. Fruity aromas with lashings of vanilla on the palate. Gorgeous.

Waitrose £14.99

The Crusher Unoaked Chardonnay, California

Unoaked styles are not usually my choice from the sunny state but this is a corker with ripe zingy fruit, fresh acidity and a lovely hint of apricots and tropical fruits on the finish.

Villeneuve Wines £14.00