The Ubiquitous Chardonnay
Whether you love it or hate it (and generally you fall on one spectrum or the other), Chardonnay is undeniably one of the most popular wine grapes in the world. In fact, it is the most planted white wine grape on the planet. So, when International Chardonnay Day rolls around, love it or hate it, you should celebrate it.
Today is that day. So grab a bottle and grab some friends, and use it as an excuse to raise a glass. We’ve provided a list of five fun facts below to whet your palate and impress your guests.
1. Originally from Burgundy, Chardonnay is distantly related to Pinot Noir. Chardonnay is the natural offspring of Pinot Noir and Gouis Blanc, an obscure grape brought to Burgundy by the Romans around the 8th century. This is why you will often see the two planted in the same regions, whether Burgundy, the Sonoma Coast or Oregon.
2. Chardonnay is extremely adaptable. From chilly Champagne to California’s sun-baked vineyards, Chardonnay thrives in wide variety of climates. In the cooler regions, it shows a brighter profile, with green apple and citrus flavors, while the warmer climates tend to coax forward summer fruits like peach, apricot, tropical fruits, pineapple and mango.
3. Chardonnay is a fairly neutral grape, often heavily influenced by the winemaker’s hand. Choices in malolactic fermentation and oak aging are two techniques that can produce a range of styles, from a rich, buttery Napa-esque Chardonnay to a steely, minerally Chablis.
4. Do you love or hate oak in your Chardonnay? Although a generality (because it really depends on the producer), the following regions use more oak in their Chardonnays: Napa Valley, Paso Robles, Lake County, Southern and Eastern Australia, Mendoza, Burgundy, Puglia. Likewise, the following are known for less oak: Sonoma Coast, Western Austrailia, Loire, Chablis, Chile and Oregon.
5. Leave the ABC’s to kindergarten. The A.B.C (Anything But Chardonnay) movement that emerged as a response to the over-oaked, butter-bomb Chardonnays in California turned away a lot of people from the varietal. But if you give it a chance, you can find some really stunning Chardonnays that fit exactly the style you desire.