Chardonnay

Are you one of the “ABC” club – anything but Chardonnay. Well I hope I can make you reconsider. Chardonnay is a grape that can be a winemakers dream. Think of it as a blank canvas. It will soak up the influence of the local climate or the techniques of the winemaker, transforming like a chameleon depending on these factors.

So sometimes it means it is crisp and cool with refreshing minerality. For example, when made with no oak, in a cool climate region, like Chablis with its chalky soils.

Winemakers who use oak then transform it into a richer style with hazelnut and butter flavours. Then a warm climate like California or Australia will create bolder, tropical fruit as a base for the flavour profile.

The Facts

Early ripening grape, semi aromatic, moderate acidity and alcohol.  Fruit flavours range from citrus & apple to mango & banana. Combines well with oak, typically fermented in barrel. Malolactic fermentation gives mild yoghurt-y notes. Lees stirring in barrel gives more texture and nutty richness. Some winemakers block malolactic to retain a firmer acidity giving a more zesty finish.

Alternatives

Chenin Blanc, Grillo, Godello, Chasselas

Classic Regions

France: Chablis (typically unoaked), Burgundy, Limoux, Jura, Champagne

USA: Napa Valley, Russian River, Monterey

South America: Mendoza (Argentina), Casablanca (Chile)

Australasia: Gisbourne (NZ), Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley (Australia)

Food matches

For unoaked cool climate, try seafood, white fish.

For oaked, try salmon, roast chicken, nut roast, hard cheeses.