Chardonnay Wine Guide
Chardonnay is one of the most common white grape varieties globally, 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 to have a commercial advantage.
With Chardonnay, you can practically produce any type of white wine, even the opposite. It is a fresh, fragrant wine, rich in mineral and earthy hints and structured. Still, you can refine it in new barrels to bring out the ripe, honeyed, and buttery notes or 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 traditional 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 fantastic and venerable Chardonnays reach full maturity, usually after 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 smokiness, 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.
As usual for white wines, Italy’s favorite areas are Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige. However, even Tuscany is becoming more convincing Chardonnay, especially in Bolgheri, with structured wines that make “heavy” barrique aging.
In short, few grape varieties leave such a wide choice of interpretation to the winemakers. In practice, it has everything. It is the complete package. But on the other hand, this perfection has caused an explosion of Chardonnays worldwide, leading to flattening, homologation, and too trivial wines.
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, the Chardonnay’s truly spiritual and territorial homeland.
It seems that it was born from the old progenitor Pinot Noir and its clear mineral and earthy perfumes, similar to those of Pinot Noir, would confirm this thesis.
Organoleptic characteristics of the Chardonnay
How can we recognize this excellent 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 barrique aging there are a whole series of smoky, buttery and vanilla scents, which over the years should evolve into crazy tertiary aromas. It will disappoint you if you uncork a Chardonnay that has done an intense barrique aging before its evolution. 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 isn’t easy to provide you with a guide. There are Chardonnays that, if compared, seem day and night, but what we know for sure is that Chardonnay is consistently 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 that has made wood aging, 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 discover thousands of faces and flavors. Hey, but the whole discourse on the sparkling Chardo is missing the one that is its most noble incarnation, namely the Champagne. We have not forgotten it, but we have dedicated a whole page to it. Just click here, and another excellent wine tour will begin.
Chardonnay 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, rice noodles with prawns and vegetables, sweet and sour pork, parmigiana ravioli, spaghetti with clams, chicken tikka masala, Chicken Cacciatore, Vitello Tonnato, truffle risotto, pasta alla carbonara.