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 delicate 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 can transform it into a richer style with hazelnut and butter flavours. A warmer climate style, as found in California or Australia will create bolder, tropical fruit as a base for the flavour profile.
An early ripening grape, semi aromatic, moderate acidity and alcohol. Fruit flavours range from citrus & apple to mango & banana. A grape that is often subjected to a number of winemaking techniques to adapt its style. It combines well with oak, high quality styles are typically fermented in barrel, but some may chose to only age in oak post fermentation, although this can result in less integrated flavours. The use of malolactic fermentation gives mild yoghurt-y notes, a helpful technique to soften acidity in cool climate styles. Equally winemakers can block some or all of the malolactic fermentation to retain firmer acidity and give a more zesty finish. The use of lees (dead yeast cells) during ageing by stirring the barrel can give more texture and a nutty rich flavour. Only high quality examples have the capability to age more than five years, typically those with a good level of natural acidity so that the wine maintains structure and freshness. Age tends to bring our more buttery richness and fruit flavours can move to orange peel and apricot.
Chenin Blanc, Grillo, Godello, Chasselas
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, Margaret River, Tasmania (Australia)
Other: Elgin, Stellenbosch (South Africa) Okanagan (Canada)
For unoaked cool climate, try seafood, white fish.
For oaked, try salmon, roast chicken, nut roast, hard cheeses.