It is undoubtably one of the most popular grapes in the world, and is grown in many regions. This also results in the huge variety of Chardonnays, from lean dry, sparkling Blanc de Blancs to rich, creamy white wines aged in oak.
Exploring a variety of Chardonnay will show you just how much winemaking styles & climate are huge influences on the final taste of the wine.
This dry medium bodied white typically has aromas of apple, starfruit, pineapple. Expect more tropical notes such as pineapple or mango from warm climate regions, where the grapes ripen more. Additionally, Chardonnay can be either buttery or crisp depending on the winemaking style; primarily if it was oaked or unoaked. Vanilla, butter, coconut are notes that are imparted to the wine from oak ageing & malolactic fermentation in barrel results in the creamy texture of the wine.
It's a wine worthy of decadent meals like lobster. Bolder oaked chardonnays, such as those from California, Burgundy & Australia call for crab cakes, clams & mushrooms due to its richness. Unoaked Chardonnays have similarities with Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, but without the "green" notes.
Look to Chablis for a classic lean unoaked style
Chardonnay is actually named after a small village in France where it originated. Now, it's become one of the most widely planted grapes in the world, with a wide variety of resulting styles & profiles.
OAKED CHARDONNAY REGIONS
A large proportion of oaked chardonnay regions come from warm climate regions, as the higher ripeness of the grape produces more tropical fruit notes, which blends better with the oak notes & structure provided.
Common regions include:
- Southern & Eastern Australia
- Napa Valley, Paso Robles and Lake County in California, USA
- Mendoza Argentina
- Burgundy, France (Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault and Mâconnais)
- Tuscany & Puglia, Italy
UNOAKED CHARDONNAY REGIONS
Mostly coming from cooler climate regions, these wines have a more dominant apple or pear note, and due to the lack of oak ageing, have a more pronounced acidity.
They can be made into sparkling wines, or as still whites. Common regions include:
- Sonoma Coast, California
- Western Australia
- Champagne, Loire and Chablis, France
- Colchagua and Casablanca Valley, Chile
- Oregon, USA