ORDER A WHITE, IT’S PROBABLY CHARDONNAY
One of the world’s most popular wines, Chardonnay accounts for about one bottle of every five sold in the United States. People who buy wine to match with seafood often choose Chardonnay wine because it has a soft, lush taste. Such purchases are often based on high wine ratings (from such publications as the Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator). Wines these publications favor are often oak-scented. However, French white Burgundy, which is also made from Chardonnay, can be a more delicate statement.
Notably, Chablis is a fine wine that traditionally has not been aged in oak barrels, and usually is relatively crisp and light.
As a grape, Chardonnay is not difficult to grow, but it delivers the best quality when it bears smallish amounts of fruit per acre.
CHARDONNAY PLANT IN
A wide variety of soil types, with well-drained soils that are good for lower tonnages.
CHARDONNAY HARVEST EXPECTATION
Early because later picking often risks losing critical acidity (vital for balanced wine). Also, the variety is rain sensitive, so it’s best to harvest earlier than later.
CHARDONNAY CLIMATE REGIONS
Cool or even cold.
High, but the grape is only moderately productive due to spring shatter (loss of berries).
Small, cylindrical and occasionally uneven.
COUNTRIES WHERE CHARDONNAY GROWS WELL
Burgundy in France, cooler climates of California, but also does well in colder regions of Chile (such as Casablanca Valley), Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in parts of Italy.
Grows well in: Almost all warmer regions, but rarely makes distinctive wines in them. At best, Chardonnay wine from a warm-climate is often lower-priced.
CLASSIC STYLES OF CHARDONNAY
From cooler areas, the aroma of this grape can be floral and the wine can be slate-y/minerally. It is usually oak-aged with the best staying in barrels for one year or a bit more.
STYLE OF WINE MADE RECENTLY FROM CHARDONNAY
Unwooded, or unoaked versions are now in vogue in many places. Such wines cannot be made from poor-quality grapes since there without oak as a flavoring element, there is no way to hide a wine’s flaws.
MARKETING OF CHARDONNAY WINE
Many fine wine producers ask a lot of money for their Chardonnays, but the vast majority of lower-priced Chardonnays are sold more like a commodity. The finest versions such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Le Montrachet are prized and sell for huge amounts of money, partly because only a scant amount of it is producer from year to year.
AGING OF CHARDONNAY
The best Chardonnays call for some cellaring, perhaps a few years. Few California Chardonnays age very well, but those that do can be exceptional.
FOOD PAIRINGS WITH CHARDONNAY
Richer foods such as lobster with drawn butter.