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Through the Cellar Door.
Wine education through passion, learn about the places & people that make wine possible.
 

Chardonnay

"Chardonnay."

This is a wine that everyone in the world has heard of.
And as such, there is a lot to say on such a grape. We shall be just performing a small overview today.
Arguably the most popular of all white varieties, Chardonnay is certainly spread the widest.
Chardonnay can be found in almost every single wine producing region in the world, from it's traditional home in Burgundy, France, to South Africa, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and California.
 

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Chardonnay is often a wine that is crafted both by the vineyard and by the winemaker themselves.
Often neutral in flavour, Chardonnay commonly goes through varying degrees of Oak maturation and sometimes full Oak barrel fermentation. 
This grape is also a key component in producing sparkling wines with the most well-known example being Champagne.
Chardonnay can be incredibly versatile and often greatly express the terroir they are grown in, with warmer locations producing peach, melon, crisp citrus and sometimes tropical flavours, while cooler areas (sometimes within the same wine region or country) retain a noticeably higher acidity and often are avoiding much oak influence, focusing instead on light bodied expressions that exhibit fresh pear and apple characters.

Chardonnay's world domination has been a point of contention in recent years (especially the 1990's) with some producers ripping up unique, native varieties in favour of the more commercially viable Chardonnay.
This, in combination with some poor Oak-management decisions (Oak chips, too much reliance on new Oak barrels, etc.) by many producers during those years gave rise to the fashion of "ABC - Anything But Chardonnay" which swept across several countries, most notably the United Kingdom and the USA which had previously been some of the largest consumers of Chardonnay.
 

Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly (check it out, it's awesome!) Screwing up her face in anxiety of filming a video comparing some Chardonnay to baby diapers (here's the video)

Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly (check it out, it's awesome!) Screwing up her face in anxiety of filming a video comparing some Chardonnay to baby diapers (here's the video)

Chardonnay's history for centuries lay shrouded in mystery, with many myths, legends and rumours leading to a conflicted view on where this variety truly originated.
DNA fingerprinting research performed by the University of California, Davis (UCD) has suggested that the variety is the offspring of the equally famous Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc, a seldom grown variety that is the ancestor of many other varieties.
The Pinot Noir connection was long speculated by Viticulturists as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are similar in several ways including that the leaves of both varieties are almost identical in shape and structure.

This one grape has accomplished many amazing feats, from being a vital part of several of France's most famous wines, uniting the world in hatred of certain style of itself (and by proxy opening the world up to alternate, new varieties), to being planted in almost every single wine producing country on Earth.

The vineyards of Montrachet, with Chevalier-Montrachet at the top of the hill (foreground) down to Montrachet with Batard-Montrachet at the bottom. Puligny-Montrachet is the small community in the background.

The vineyards of Montrachet, with Chevalier-Montrachet at the top of the hill (foreground) down to Montrachet with Batard-Montrachet at the bottom.
Puligny-Montrachet is the small community in the background.

Some examples of Chardonnay

Chablis - Burgundy, France: Flinty, Un-oaked, Calcareous soil (Limestone)
Montrachet - Burgundy, France: Rich, Textured, Low production , Calcareous soil (Limestone)
Russian River Valley - Sonoma, USA: Pear - Peach, Rich, Retains acidity
Carneros - Napa, USA: High acidity, Little to no oak, Shallow soil (Clay)
Margaret River - Western Australia, Australia: Delicate, Minerality, Balanced, Mediterranean climate
Casablanca Valley - Chile: Crisp, Fresh, Medium oak involvement, Cool Mediterranean + Maritime influence


Whatever your thoughts on the versatile Chardonnay, the future of this wine lies with us, the wine-consuming public to ensure that how ever large it's market share may be, the producers of Chardonnay world-wide must focus on quality and should not repeat the mistakes of the past. 

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