Chardonnay is one of the world’s most popular and well known wines and for good reason. Not only can it be buttery or oaky but it is deliciously drinkable year round and goes well with a variety of cuisines. Today we delve into this wine and explore 5 little known facts about Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is one of the most widely distributed varietal’s around the world, planted in almost every wine regional round the world, with its acreage falling short of only Spain’s Airen grape and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano), This is due in part to the Chardonnay grapes ability to grow in such a wide range of climates and soil types.
1. Chardonnay is Incredibly easy to grow.
Chardonnay is one of the most planted grape varietals in the world and this has much to do with its ability to grow anywhere. While Chardonnay can find a home almost anywhere, its sibling from Burgundy, Pinot Noir, can be incredibly fickle.
2. Chardonnay is Related to Pinot Noir
Despite their differences as red and white wine, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are actually quite closely related, in fact Chardonnay is actually Pinot Noirs “daughter”. A chance crossing between the Pinot Noir grape and the obscure grape called Gouais Blanc resulted in the most popular grape varietal in the world Chardonnay. Gouias in virtually non-existent in France today despite being brought to Burgundy in the 5th century. So in a way the grape variety now lives on today in Chardonnay.
3. The Origins of Chardonnay
Chardonnay takes its name from a small village in Burgundy where the grape was brought by the Romans in the 5th and 10th century by the Roman Empire. Over the centuries the name “Chardonnay” has gone through a plethora of renditions Chardeni, Chaudenet and Chatenait to name only a few, before its currently spelling was standardised in the 1890s. All other synonyms have been abandoned save for Morillon used by winemakers in Austria.
4. Chardonnay has a Wide Range of Flavors Depending on where the Grapes are Grown.
Chardonnay is well known for having a spectrum of flavours from oaky to a full buttery flavour and this is often due to the reputation that Chardonnay has for being made in the cellar rather than the vineyard. This allows the winemaker to have more of an influence on the taste and flavour profile of the wine than you would expect to experience in other varietals. Regardless, the location does matter. In the Napa valley and Australia the flavours tend to be more fruity, often pineapple can be tasted and even papaya whereas Chardonnay grown in colder climates like the Willamette Valley tend to be stronger in apple, peach and peach flavours. The oakey and buttery flavours that you often find in Chardonnay are stylistic choices of the winemaker rather the influence of the grape itself.
5. More Chardonnay is Produced in Burgundy than Pinot Noir.
When we think Burgundy we think big red Pinot Noirs, which is understandable as Burgundy is the word we use for red,. However, you would be surprised to know that more Chardonnay is actually grown here than Pinot Noir. Chardonnay actually reigns as the champion of that region and accounts for almost 60% of the wine produced in this region and 30% Pinot Noir.