The world's most popular white grape,
Chardonnay expresses its varietal character in many forms: from the
racy, steely, and nervy wines of Chablis, to the fuller-bodied, buttery
rich wine made in the Napa Valley, California.
Chardonnay could be described as a
'winemaker's dream' because it's easy to work with and produces an
amazing range of flavors - lemon, pineapple, peach, apple, honey,
butter, bread, hazelnut, (oak-aged) vanilla, and biscuit. The butter and
creamy texture often associated with Chardonnay is a significant sign
that malolactic fermentation, which softens the 'green', underripe
characteristics, has occurred. Malolactic fermentation will be
encouraged in cool-climate wines that may well have excess acidity but
is usually avoided in warmer climates, where acidity tends to be low.
Chardonnay reaches its greatest heights in
Burgundy's Cóte D'Or, where the best wines, such as Meursault or
Montrachet, gain sublime richness and complexity from the all-important
This grape's rise to stardom has been
dramatic, considering that in South Australia, no Chardonnay was planted
until the early 1970s. There is a danger though, that the full-bodied,
buttery, fruity chardonnay with an oaky flavor will become so popular
that it may become difficult to convince consumers that a fresh, lively,
oak-free version not only shows the true characteristics of the grape
variety, but is an alternative to the 'international style'.
Where in the world ?
The Chardonnay grape is grown in Burgundy,
Champagne and the south of France, Australia, New Zealand, California,
South America and South Africa.