Often called the red wine of all white wines, Chardonnay is the most popular white wine around the world. The compelling and delicious wine is grown anywhere in the world where wine is produced. Its grape can be produced in a wide range of styles and grown in any climate, as it is resilient, adaptable and low-maintenance.
The green-skinned grape variety wine originates from Burgundy in France and features a fruity and youthful style that makes it a favorite among white wine enthusiasts globally.
Origin, Popularity and Relationship with other Grapes
Chardonnay was discovered to have a fairly neutral profile by winegrowers and makers in Burgundy, where it originated from. It also seemed to have a one-of-a-kind tendency to express the essence of the land, otherwise known as terroir. Thus, the quality and taste of the wine depend on the soil, local foliage and even the climate it was grown. Even if this grape is grown in every winegrowing country, no two places produce the same taste. Regardless of this, every region can easily grow it, making it increase in popularity.
The final result of how Chardonnay tastes is dependent on the climate where it is grown. Chardonnay grown in warm regions like South Africa, California and South Australia features tropical and ripe flavors, so you will taste hints of star fruit, pineapple and apricot. But, when it is grown in cooler climates like New Zealand, Burgundy, Chile and Oregon, you can taste lemon, quince and even yellow apple.
It was discovered later on, apart from how adaptive the Chardonnay grape is to various regions worldwide, that it is also very responsive to oak ageing. The final profile of the wine is highly dependent on whether it was aged in oak and how long this was. When winemakers want the wine to be crisp and fresh, they limit the amount of oxygen it gets by fermenting and storing it in stainless steel containers.
Over-oaking used to be a popular practice by winemakers of Chardonnay, but not anymore. Nowadays, the wine is fermented and aged in a portion of new barrels. This leads to a balanced wine with only a hint of vanilla and complexity, and this will remind enthusiasts of the original Burgundian-style taste that Chardonnay has. This does not only have a delicious result but also saves money spent on producing the wine.
Chardonnay as a Wine
Chardonnay should be served chilled, which is common for all white wines. The alcohol will taste hot and it will be hard to taste exact flavors if the wine is too warm, but you won't taste anything if it's cold – the flavors would be muted. By storing the white wine for two hours in the refrigerator or for up to 40 minutes in an ice water bath, you can achieve the right taste.
Chardonnay can be drunk with all types of food because of its wide range of tastes and profiles. While some of them go with seafood or fresh cheese, others are perfect with aged cheese, poultry or pork tenderloin. Chardonnay with high alcohol content pairs well with entrees, grilled meats and rich cream sauce.