Pronounced shar-dunay. A grape varietal used in the production of white and sparkling wine. Where the Chardonnay varietal originated has not been verified, but it has definitely earned a reputation and a home in France’s Burgundy region. The Chardonnay varietal is easy to grow and produces high yields. The grape is also grown in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States (specifically California), Italy, and Spain. The Chardonnay is the only varietal allowed to be grown in France's Chablis appelation. Vinified as a 100% varietal in Chablis and White Burgundy (exception: if label specifies Aligoté varietal blended with the White Burgundy). Also used in the production of high quality sparkling French wines and French champagnes.
Also known as: Beaunois, Gamay Blanc, Melon d’Arbois, and Pinot Chardonnay.
Characteristics: The Chardonnay’s of France have a reputation of being consistently dry, bold, rich, big, and complex. Varying flavor from semi-sweet to sour, heavy to light, and simple to complex. Typically exhibit hints of lemon, lime, melon, apple, pineapple, figs, pear, butterscotch, nuts, honey and spice. Can be oily. Chardonnay produced in the Burgundy region of France tend to be complex, long-lived, flinty, and appley. Chardonnay produced outside of France tend to be big, creamy and oaky. California wines labled “Chardonnay” are typically dry, buttery and fruity. Due to the broad range in the quality of wines made with the Chardonnay varietal, it is best to refer to the label when choosing which wine to serve.
Ageing: Oak ageing benefits the Chardonnay varietal and brings out hints of vanilla. Although bottle ageing can shorten the life of a Chardonnay, it softens the crispness of the grape. Different ageing techniques create different wine characteristics. Some high quality Chardonnay’s will age up to 10 years.
Serving temperature: Serve at a temperature of 40º-45º F.
Food pairings: Fish, seafood, shellfish, red meat dishes (grilled and smoked), creamy sauces, poultry, and egg dishes.