Read on as we take a glance at production and its impact on price from Eight at the Gate Wines.

Chardonnay is a versatile grape variety that presents differently across different regions, climates as well as the way in which it’s fermented.  

Grown in a warm climate, grapes will have tropical fruit characters with less acidity, whereas when grown in a cooler climate grapes tend to produce more citrus and mineral characters.

If you enjoy a Pinot Grigio or Savvy B you may might like more of a crisp and lean Chardonnay such as the ones from Chablis. These are more acid-driven chardonnays of the unoaked variety meaning they’ve had little to no oak treatment and are typically fermented in a stainless steel tank. This style of fermentation creates a crisp acidic taste sans the buttery hallmark characteristics of Chardonnay.

If you prefer a buttery chardonnay prepare to loosen those purse strings. To achieve the iconic creamy flavour profile the wine is fermented in oak barrels undergoing a process called ‘Malolactic Fermentation’. Put simply, malic acid is converted into lactic acid, softening the acidity and bringing a creamy flavour to the palate.

This is where it can get a little expensive. Oak barrels vary in price quite dramatically. An aged tight grain French oak barrel can be over $2,000 a barrel. Typically holding 225 litres to 300 litres, a barrell will yield 300 to 400 bottles tops. Of course these can be reused but the amount of oak characters you get from a barrel after the first use changes.

Think of it like a tea bag. You can reuse a tea bag but the second time you use that tea bag you only get a fraction of the flavour. Therefore the cost to produce a premium barrel fermented chardonnay using new and old barrels is dramatically different.

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