Chardonnay is a favorite variety of wine drinkers and wine makers alike. As a wine, it is full-flavored, easydrinking, and hardly ever sharp or aggressive. Chardonnay grapes are adaptable and easy to grow, making them a favorite of winemakers. Almost anywhere wine grapes grow, Chardonnay can be found.It fares well in both warm and cool climates and yields can be high without sacrificing quality.
Another attraction of the Chardonnay variety is that is its relative lack of distinctive flavor which allows Chardonnay wine to take on whatever character the winemaker decides to give it. Key factors in developing the wine’s characteristics are exposure to wood, malolactic fermentation, and barrel fermentation.Malolactic fermentation is extremely common, as popular taste has been geared in recent years toward bigger bodied, smooth, buttery wines. This caused something of a problem in the New World in the last few decades, as winemakers tended towards making Chardonnay wines so oaky that hardly any fruit character was perceptible. Thankfully, Chardonnay producers are turning toward a more delicate, Burgundian style.
White Burgundy is almost universally Chardonnay. Chardonnay grapes love Burgundy’s chalky, limestone-rich soil, which is a key reason that the area produces so many brilliant wines. Burgundy is considered the homeland of Chardonnay, the site of the best vineyards capable of producing some of the greatest Chardonnay in the world. Key villages in Burgundy include Chablis, Aloxe-Corton, Meursault,Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet, and Pouilly-Fuisse. It is also one of the principal grapes in Champagne along with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. French Chardonnay is made in Alsace, the Loire Valley, and southern France.
Chardonnay has played a large role in bringing Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Carneros the reputations, fame, and success they enjoy today. California Chardonnay is recognized, if not admired, worldwide. Australia also produces some fine examples, especially in Padthaway in the cooler south, the Upper Hunter Valley, and Margaret River regions. Elsewhere in the New World, Chardonnay is grown with success in the central California coast, the cooler parts of South Central Coast, in parts of British Columbia and in Ontario, Washington, Oregon, and New York state.