Chardonnay, a bluffers guide.
Chardonnay, the everybody's everthing.
A really strong contender for a friend for all. Not too demanding in growing conditions, will take to whatever blending the producer wants, not really fussy where it grows, within certain limits, but all in all a really willing grape that just wants to please.
Yet there is more to it. It provides the edge of elegance into a Champagne blend. It can hold its own as a non blended, Chardonnay only Champagne, a Blanc de Blancs. It is also the grape that provides us with Chablis.
So this white grape can provide us with Chablis in Burgundy, Champagne in Champagne, and lots of wines from all over the world, especially Napa Valley, California USA.
In hot climate zones Chardonnay develops a lot more fruity flavours - due to more sunshine and the grapes being allowed to get riper. If you like the idea of a wine that tastes of ripe apples and melons then try a Chardonnay from a hotter country.
In colder climates such as Northern Europe, Chardonnay stays fresh and crisp
Chablis, can also be called white burgundy, so can other wines, but they can't call themselves Chablis! The region is in the east of France, half way between Paris and Lyon. The wine is ranked into four 'grades'. Petit Chablis is the regions basic wine and can be quite variable in quality. Chablis will be produced in villages and will be produced to a higher standard and more consistent quality. Chablis Premier Cru is a better standard altogether and only 40 sites are allowed to use this title, and you will be getting a good quality wine. At the top of the list you will find Chablis Grand Cru. There are only 7 sites allowed to claim this title and these will be exceptional wine indeed!
The image on the right is one of the soil that the chardonnay grape grows in in Chablis. Poor in nutrients and rocky and the grape loves it! Chablis is often described as having a mineral taste. Wine tasting of pebbles? Yes. However, you may not have licked many pebbles in your life. What does it mean?
When drinking Chablis you should be left with a sensation of your tongue salivating from the base, leaving an unusual urge to open and close your mouth. That's the taste sensation called minerality.
Grapes will take on different flavours depending on the soil they are grown in and pebbles leads to minerality. The unique edge to a glass of Chablis
Chardonnay grapes are grown the world over, and as a result it is very difficult to say what it should taste of. From warmer climates you will taste melon, from colder climates green apples. If it's been aged in oak you may taste vanilla. It really does always try to please the grower and blender. Find one that agrees with you and you'll find it will try to please you too.