Chardonnay white Wine Grape

the grapeWhat is Chardonnay?

Around the world, Chardonnay is recognized as the most noble of white wines. Its grape is widely planted, capable of producing a broad range of wine styles and has almost universal appeal. So, what is Chardonnay and why is it so popular. For you, (prospective) Chardonnay lovers, I have collected all the facts about this grape, which you will find hereunder:

  1. Chardonnay is the most famous white wine grape in the world and they have planted the grape in virtually every country that produces wine.
  2. The grape has its origins in the French Burgundy and the best Chardonnay wines come from this region. The Chardonnay produces wines that vary from deep gold coloured with a strong oak taste to light sunny yellow ones with tropical aromas.
  3. Chardonnay vines take their name from a village in France near Macon and yield rather longish bunches with golden berries that are almost translucent when fully ripe. 
  4. Some Chardonnays are grown in heavy soils, fermented and aged in oak barrels for an extended period. The resulting wines are big, full of vanilla, heavy with oak and long lived. You can read more about oaked Chardonnays here.
  5. Other grapes are grown in light gravely soils, fermented in stainless steel and aged only for a few weeks or months in older oak barrels. Unoaked Chardonnays are fresher, lighter, less complex with a fruit up-front finish. Read about this kind of Chardonnay here.
  6. Recent  DNA research conducted at UC Davis, California concluded Chardonnay is the result of  a cross between Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Gouais Blanc.
  7. Chardonnay grapeIt is very likely that the Romans planted Gouais Blanc on French soils in areas where Pinot Noir was planted as well.
  8. Chardonnay became the 5th most widely planted grape variety in the world with over 400,000 acres planted.
  9. The USA has the vastest area, 45,000 ha, of Chardonnay plantings, followed by France : 35,252 ha, Australia : 22,528 ha, Italy : 11,800 ha, South Africa : 7,927 ha, Chile : 7,561 ha, Argentina : 5,155 ha, New Zealand : 2,449 ha and Spain : 2,200 ha.
  10. From the end of the 20th century Chardonnay, in a very short period of time, grew to be a brand name, even to the point of having a Chardonnay frenzy, which hit its peak at the end of the eighties. 
  11. Many more vineyards decided to plant Chardonnay leading to market saturation and subsequently the number of planted Chardonnay vines decreased and meanwhile the number of acres on which this popular grape is growing has stabilized. Read about Chardonnay’s “comeback” here.
  12. The Chardonnay grape is relatively easy to cultivate, the vines produce regularly and in relatively great quantities, as a consequence of which the fruits often hold a high sugar content, leading to a high alcohol content.  
  13. So many countries, with so many climates, produce so many styles from so many wine-making techniques.Chardonnay grape
  14. It has almost single handedly changed the fortunes of many wine-growing regions and countries.
  15. The grape is growing best on soil with a high concentrations of chalk, clay and limestone, but it will perform well on virtually every type of soil, thus one of the reasons the grape gained mass popularity is its ease in adapting to and representing the area where it is grown.
  16. Chardonnay has been the greatest benefactor of the “New World” way of labelling wines by the grape varietal instead of the region.
  17. Chardonnay is also one of the few white wines that can be aged. While many white wines lose their flavour after two years in the bottle, Chardonnay can keep improving for five to eight years. Many winemakers carefully age Chardonnay in oak barrels, which gives the wine a pleasant vanilla taste.
  18. The lighter Chardonnays go very well with soft cheeses, whilst fuller bodied ones perfectly match the saltier and heartier cheeses.
  19. California is the region that produces the most varieties of Chardonnay wines in the world.
  20. In the USA Chardonnay white wine is the most popular wine.
  21. The Chardonnay grape is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne.

Conclusion

Chardonnay grapeRegardless of techniques used, most Chardonnays age well, developing depth, complexity and interest in the bottle.  Every fine restaurant offers an abundance of Chardonnay selections. Some cynics believe it became many country’s most popular white wine in the early eighties because it has a name that is easy to pronounce.

While there may be a grain of truth in that suggestion, a more plausible explanation is that Chardonnay is truly a great grape which produces pleasant, interesting wines and complements many styles and varieties of cuisine. I hope you are going to enjoy drinking this queen of the white wines! Please visit my summaries of some of the world best Chardonnays by clicking the images to the right under the heading World best Chardonnays.

I will go adding more info to this page as I will come across it during my extensive searches in news papers, books, magazines and of course the internet. Above all, I would like you, dear reader, to contribute your experiences to this page and indeed this site, so that it can become a unique platform for Chardonnay Fans!

Feel free to add any new data or ask any questions and I will come back to you within 24 hours.


14 thoughts on “Chardonnay white Wine Grape

  1. Michal Bahno

    Hi Jerry,

    I have never realized that there are so many different types of Chardonnays.

    Actually I am a fan of red wine – but in winter;
    so since summer session is already knocking on the door in Europe I am steering to white one. And I am sure this year I will do more “research” on the Chardonnays 🙂

    What kind of Chardonnay would you recommend with fish, or seafood?

    We go to Italy every summer, so I would like to be educated in advance 😉
    Thanks a lot
    Mike

    Reply
    1. Jerry

      You have come to the right website for information, all information on Chardonnay from the best countries in the world and their best Chardonnays. I have published an article on Chardonnay and food pairing here: https://chardonnayfans.com/chardonnay-food-pairing-handy-tips-the-best-combinations

      Along with France , Italy is a leading wine country in Europe. Throughout the world the USA, Chili, S-Africa, Australia and New-Zealand are upcoming. The warmer the climate, the more sun on the grapes, the fuller the taste of the wine. Australia therefore has many full bodied Chardonnays, each of which goes very well with most seafood, especially the ones with strong tastes. The lighter the taste of the fish, the lighter the Chardonnays you can use. Then the ones from France and Italy will be suited. I have reviewed some Italian Chardonnay here: https://chardonnayfans.com/italian-wine-reviews. You will find that the wines from Tuscany are of high quality. Have a good trip and a great wine experience.

      Reply
  2. Candice Dinnis

    Hi
    Can you tell me what Chardonnay’s are rich, creamy and oak cured? The Chardonnay’s seem to be getting lighter and lighter…I miss the sipping ones!!

    Thank You
    Candice

    Reply
    1. Jerry

      Hi Candice, see my previous reply to you in ” The world’s best Chardonnay wines”. Especially in Australia Chardonnay wines had been oaked, providing this rich creamy even buttery taste. In the late nineties this had been a little bit overdone. People started asking for lighter unoaked Chardonnays, hence the grow of lighter, fresher Chardonnays. However, lightly oaked Chardonnays are still here as I have mentioned in my previous reply to you. If you tell me me where you are located I could provide you some leads to the wines you would like and available through this site.

      Reply
  3. Neil

    Hey, Jerry! WOW… What a load of very interesting facts I just learned about Chardonnay 🙂 I really had no idea that America had the biggest area of plantings, and this is very useful information to know, for both people who work with wine and the people who buy it too. Cheers, Neil

    Reply
    1. Jerry

      Hi Neil, thank you for your reaction. I will keep adding more Chardonnay facts to this article as they come. Cheers, Jerry

      Reply
  4. Brian

    I am starting to drink wines more and more, but I definitely do not have the knowledge that I would like to have to really distinguish them all. Great information and layout.

    Reply
    1. Jerry

      Thanks Brian for your comment. I do have an article on how to taste wines, you will find it here. Feel free to come back and ask what you need to know and I will be happy to reply. Cheers, Jerry

      Reply
  5. Chris

    Great information here. I am a lover of wine myself. Unfortunately I cannot enjoy it to the maximum as I suffer with really bad headaches. With other forms of alcohol I am fine although I am not a big drinker by any means. Why does wine effect me so much?

    Thanks

    Chris

    Reply
    1. Jerry

      thanks very much for your comment. If it is not the alcohol that affects you, it should be the others involved like the amines, fusel alcohol or the phenols as described in my post.Is that your website, win back your ex?

      Reply
  6. Tommy

    Hi Jerry, what an informative site you have here. I really do enjoy a few bottles of wine and the buzz you get from it haha! Thank’s for your facts to, it’s always interesting to learn about new things and I’m sure these facts will be a great conversation piece next time I’m having a few glasses with friends.

    Reply
      1. Dave Corsair

        I have special bottle of 2007 Boekenoogen Winery and Vineyards st Lucia Highlands Chardonnay wine Enthusiast rated 96. It comes in a Boekenoogen wooden wine box holds two bottles with a handwritten note from the owner JB himself. If You are interested in this item contact me at davecorsair@yahoo.com

        Reply
        1. Jerry

          Thanks for the offer. My information is that this Chardonnay should have been drunk between 2008 and 2011. So, as we are now 6 years over the date, I would be careful with trying to drink them. Have you tried one yourself recently?

          Reply

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