Wine Dharma

Chardonnay wine guide: all you need to know about the king of French white wines

Chardonnay wine guide, history, flavor and scents, Chardonnay grape and vine Chardonnay is one of the most common white grape varieties in the world, a myth, a synthesis of opulence and elegance.

But the Chardonnay has conquered the whole globe not only for its prestige or for the ease with which it gives good harvests or because it is a cool vine that many want to cultivate in order to have a commercial advantage.

With Chardonnay, you can practically produce any type of white wine, even completely opposite. Basically, it is a fresh, fragrant wine, rich in mineral and earthy hints and also structured, but you can refine it in new barrels to bring out the ripe, honeyed and buttery notes or to harvest it greener if you want to push on the acidity and produce great sparkling wines. Want some examples?

Chardonnay production areas

Let’s start with the king of sparkling wines, Champagne, whereby tradition Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are the main protagonists. The Blanc de Blancs are Champagne produced with only Chardonnay grapes, so, just to say.

Then we have the sumptuous wines of Burgundy, especially the Côte de Beaune, which focus on ripe fruit, great flavor, intoxicating and buttery aromas and refinement in wood that helps the wine to become of incredible complexity. These amazing and venerable Chardonnays reach full maturity, usually after around the age of 10, so we are not talking about trivial wines.

The areas to visit in France to taste the best Chardonnays are Corton Charlemagne, Montrachet and Meursault if you like more structured and spicy wines. If you prefer a more breezy, but also pure style, without the slightest trace of barriques, then the Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise and Loire areas are worth a couple (dozens) of visits.

On the contrary in the cooler climates, such as Auckland in New Zealand or the Hunter and the Clare Valley, the Chardonnay manages to develop all its citrus and tropical charge and an unprecedented freshness.

In Italy, as usual for white wines, the favorite areas that give the most satisfaction are Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige. However, even Tuscany is turning out more and more convincing Chardonnay, especially in Bolgheri, with structured wines that make “heavy” barrique refinements.

In short, there are few grape varieties that leave such a wide choice of interpretation to the winemakers, in practice it has everything, is the complete package. But on the other hand, this perfection has caused an explosion of Chardonnays in the world, leading to flattening, homologation and too trivial wines.

Chardonnay history

Chardonnay wine description, history, area of production, Chardonnay grapes The origins of the Chardonnay grape are still obscure, the legend has it that it comes from ancient Persia, but what we have of concrete are the first documents of the grape harvests in Burgundy, truly spiritual and territorial homeland of the Chardonnay.

It seems that it was born from the old progenitor Pinot Noir and its clear mineral and earthy perfumes, so similar to those of Pinot Noir, would confirm this thesis.

Organoleptic characteristics of the Chardonnay

How can we recognize this great white wine?

The bouquet is always intense: a tangle of lemon, lime, orange suggestion, honey, then peach, many tropical fruits, banana, mint, white flowers, then rocks and mushrooms in Pinot Noir style and if it has made barriques there are a whole series of smoky, buttery and vanilla scents, which over the years should evolve into crazy tertiary aromas. If you uncork a Chardonnay that has done an intense barrique aging before its evolution, it will disappoint you. It takes time, so be careful if you have to make a purchase. We give you an illustrious example, the Gaia & Rey Langhe DOC, now you find the 2014 vintage, but it still takes many years to achieve a good balance between the hard and soft parts and the “taste of wood”.

What does Chardonnay wine taste like?
It is difficult to provide you a guide, there are Chardonnays that if compared seem day and night, but what we know for sure is that Chardonnay is always structured and acid, opulent, a sapid wine. It could be young, rocky, fresh and tropical and with a pale yellow color or if it is an older wine and has made wood aging then we should find butteriness, spices and roundness combined with flavors of lemon curd.

You just have to do some tasting, maybe buy different bottles and make comparisons between wood-aged vs unoaked wines, try different climates and you will discover the thousand faces of Chardonnay. Hey, but the whole discourse on the sparkling Chardo is missing, the one that is its most noble incarnation, namely the Champagne … No, we have not forgotten it, but we have dedicated a whole page to it, just click here and another great wine tour will begin.

Chardonnay food pairings

Chardonnay food pairings, Tortellini bolognese, pasta, wine and food pairings We are talking about a combative and structured wine, so do not combine it only with fish, but also with Thai food, shellfish soups, Indian dishes with vegetables, fried foods and white meats. Recommended dishes: Mantuan-style pumpkin tortelli, spaghetti with clams, rice noodles with prawns and vegetables, sweet and sour pork, veal with tuna sauce, parmigiana ravioli, truffle risotto, spaghetti alla carbonara, tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms.

Photo credits