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About Chardonnay

The most popular white wine grape that is found around the world is the Chardonnay grape. It is a green skinned variety of grape that is believed to originate in the Burgundy wine region of France but has since spread throughout the world. It is often seen as a rite of passsage into the international wine market when new and developing wine regions grow Chardonnay. The flavor, as well as the aroma will often depend on where the wine is made as well as the processing methods used. Chardonnay is a versatile grape and remains a major type to this day. Chardonnay grape is used to make white Burgundy along with a lesser known grape known as Aligote. White Burgundy is also another popular wine.

Chardonnay grapes are very neutral. Many of the flavors that are associated with it are influenced by oak, as well as terroir. French and American Chardonnay are among the most preferred white wines as well as the richest and most complex ones. In the United States, some very fine Chardonnay wines come from the Napa Valley in California, and the Columbia Valley in Washington.

The grapes are very malleable, reflecting the terroir, the characteristics of the climate, soil, and other factors that go into growing the grapes. Because of this, a Columbia Valley Chardonnay will be different than one from France. Even within a small viticultural area, the differences between grapes grown in one vineyard and another may be very noticeable.

The grapes ripen early, which can cause some issues. These grapes, since they develop early can be easily damaged by springtime frost. In some regions, the vines are pruned just before they flower, which delays the flowering for up to two weeks. Because of the grapes ripening early, they thrive in regions with a short growing season. Upon ripening, the chardonnay grapes will quickly lose their acidity, making harvesting time crucial.

Chardonnay grapes are a result of the extinct Croatian Blanc and Pinot grape and is aged using oak barrels. These barrels bring out the vanilla flavor that the wine is known for. Bottles can also be used to age and ferment the wine but it will not age as well as red wine under the same circumstance.

Chardonnay is best served chilled and has the potential to be served with a diverse spectrum of verious food types due to it's wide range of syles. A Chardonnay from Washington state tend to pair well with tomato based dishes as well as dished using sweet onion due to the wine maintaining more acidity in it's character. Earthy dishes, such as mushroom soup or aged cheese, pair very well with an older and a more mellow Chardonnay. Chardonnay is most commonly paired with chicken, turkey and other white meats.

Other than making white Burgandy, Chardonnay grapes are also used for making Champagne as well as other types of sparkling wines. Remaining as one of the most widely-planted grape varieties, Chardonnay has over 400,000 acres worldwide. Chardonnay can also be found in any wine or alcohol store and can make a great addition to any meal.

Submitted by:

Tim Sousa

Visit Wine Country Guide to learn more about wine and wine growing regions.


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