Chardonnay…Possibly the most under-loved and misunderstood of the grapes!!
Are you a member of the ABC party? (Anything but Chardonnay)…Ahh poor Chards probably the most misunderstood and under-loved of the grapes, but why?
I am ashamed to say that when I first started trying wine a long time ago now I used to be one of those people that always turned their nose up at Chardonnay, probably because it was heavily oaked and also because I was just totally ill informed of what a wonderfully diverse grape it is, and that it can be completely different depending on where it’s grown, the ‘terroir’ as its known in the wine world and also what happens during the fermentation & ageing process, this all contributes towards the final taste of the wine.
So lets break it down to show you what you can expect from warm to cool climate from steel to oak so you know what you’re going to like and what you’re going to want to spit right out!
Warm Climate Chardonnay
Ahhh that tropical burst of flavour you get from a warmer climate chard is delicious! Pineapples, peaches, figs, you could go even more tropical with mango if it’s really ripe. You can find this style of Chardonnay coming from the warmer climes of Mendoza, Napa, & Pasa Robles in Cali. Be aware that many warmer climate Chardonnay’s tend to be oaked so if that’s not your bag and you can’t make head nor tail of the wine label just ask.
Cool Climate Chardonnay
So the cooler climate Chardonnay’s tend to be crisp, zesty, citrusy with green apple & lemons, very likely to be highly acidic and much fresher on the palate. They will be coming from Casablanca Valley in Chile, Western Australia or Chablis to name a few. While we are on the subject of Chablis…have you heard this one before ‘I don’t like Chardonnay but I love Chablis’ yes we all have I’m sure, this is a perfect example of somebody that likes the cooler climate zestier versions of Chardonnay, so If you dislike anything but Chablis you’re probably a cooler climate Chard fan for sure.
You can definitely have too much but you can also get some Chardonnays with just the right amount, subtle enough to give a lovely buttery, toasty, nutty…. I will stop now oh and vanilla flavour think creme brûlée and you have got it!
Fermenting in stainless steel really allows the flavours of the pure fruit to sing. It gives the wine a beautiful minerality, it’s lighter & zestier than its oaked sister.
Concrete eggs are being used much more widely now, they give a similar style Chard to stainless steel fermentation but because concrete is porous it lets in a little air which creates more texture and body to the wine.
Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) not to be mistaken with MILF!!
After the wine is fermented there can be an additional fermentation called Malolactic fermentation which turns the malic acid into lactic acid. The result of this process is a creamy, waxy sometimes oily like texture to the wine. So if you like that creamy feeling, look out for wines especially Chardonnay’s that have gone through MLF.
Shake off that county club rep you have given it, there is a Chardonnay for everyone you just have to make the effort to find it!
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