Chardonnay is the chameleon of the wine world, transforming from the buttery oak-aged drop beloved by the 90’s to the crisp, citrusy styles of today. As one of the most diverse grape varieties in the world, it is almost guaranteed that there is Chardonnay style out there that is perfect for you.
Chardonnay is a green-skin grape variety with an inherently neutral profile that has lead it to become the most planted white wine grape in the world. Originally from the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay grapes flourish in limestone, clay and chalk soil and today can be found growing in Italy, California, Chile, South Africa, and the Yarra Valley in Australia. Chardonnay is a very malleable variety of grape and takes on the impression of it’s region and the winemaker, making it a versatile grape ideal for most any style of wine making.
Chardonnay hit its peak popularity in the 90’s when it was fashionable for wine makers to employ an arsenal of techniques, including oak-aging and malolactic fermentation. This process converts hard malic acids into softer lactic acid and the result is a rounder, buttery mouth feel with flavours of vanilla and caramel.
However, following this brief period of popularity Chardonnay fell into distaste and the wine making process was overhauled. Today Chardonnay wines are generally kept simple and unoaked for a zesty dry style that is closer to a Pinto Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. Depending on how ripe the grapes were when they were picked, flavours can vary from lemon and green apples to tropical pineapple and mango.
Versatile Chardonnay is used to create some of the worlds best known wine styles, including Chablis and White Burgundy. It is also an important component in many sparkling wines, including Champagne and is one of the three major grapes grown in the Champagne region.
When it come to pairing with food, there is almost always a style of Chardonnay to match any dish. Crisp, acidic Chardonnay is a dream with white meats such as chicken and turkey, as well as fish, seafood, herbs and soft cheeses. The buttery texture of old style oak-aged chardonnays is a bit too heavy for the delicate flavours of seafood, but work well as a contrast to spicy fare such as Indian curries.
Top Australian Chardonnays
- 2014 Landaire Chardonnay
- 2012 Dominique Portet Chardonnay Yarra Valley
- 2015 Di Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay
- 2013 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Margaret River Chardonnay.