10 Essential Facts on Chardonnay

"Anything but Chardonnay," you may have heard your friend cry. They call it the "ABCs" of wine, and perhaps you've even uttered those words yourself. Truthfully, no other grape variety yields as diverse a spectrum of wines as Chardonnay . As the world's 5th most popular wine grape, Chardonnay's reach extends from Burgundy and Champagne to Bolivia and the Czech Republic . In short, there's a Chardonnay to suit every palate. Here's everything you need to know about the king of white grapes in ten essential facts. 1. According to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, Chardonnay is the world's 5th most planted wine grape variety and the 2nd among whites, trailing only Airén . Chardonnay's global expanse is astonishing. Ukraine cultivates approximately 3,000 hectares of the variety, and Brazil grows just half that. Even tiny Luxembourg has carved out 40 hectares for Chardonnay. 2. Chardonnay's origins, however, lie in France. Genetic studies have concluded Chardonnay to be a cross between Pinot and Gouais Blanc, two of the most ancient varieties. Such pedigree makes Chardonnay a full sibling to Gamay and Aligoté , both of whom share vineyard space with Chardonnay in Burgundy, as well as Melon de Bourgogne . 3. Chardonnay manifests its most classic (and most expensive) expression in Burgundy – notably in the Côte de Beaune. Here, Chardonnay captivates its drinkers with an ability to transmit the essence of place. The great grand cru vineyards of Burgundy for white wines - Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, and Corton-Charlemagne – are often considered Chardonnay's apex of achievement. 4. It's difficult to comprehend that Chablis , Burgundy's most northern region, grows the same grape as its neighboring appellations to the south. Whereas the great white Burgundies from the Côte de Beaune are pillared and full-bodied, Chablis' typicity is marked by a steely precision. The wines are almost austere in their reflection of the chalk soils and marginal climate from which they are born. 5. In Burgundy, Chardonnay isn't only a grape, it's also a place. That's right, there is indeed a town called Chardonnay in the Mâconnais from which the grape takes its name. Chardonnay's population? 176 very lucky residents who get to list Chardonnay, France as their address. 6. White Burgundy may be Chardonnay's most well known accomplishment, but France actually boasts two great homes for the grape. The other is Champagne , where Chardonnay contributes a critical role to the blend of the world's celebratory beverage of choice. In Champagne, Chardonnay grows best on the Côte des Blancs. Traditionally, Chardonnay is blended with the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier , but 100% Chardonnay Champagnes are prized and labeled " Blanc de Blancs ." 7. While France may lay claim as the grape's ancestral home, California harvests nearly as much Chardonnay as the French, dedicating roughly 95,000 acres to the variety. Chardonnay can be found in most every corner of California's wine-growing regions, from Santa Barbara's Sta. Rita Hills to Sonoma's Russian River Valley to Mendocino's Anderson Valley . 8. Overripe, hyper-creamy renditions of Chardonnay resembling liquid butter have sadly become what's known as the "California-style." Truthfully, a tremendous number of California vintners have mastered the grape with both restrained and more opulent aesthetics. In fact, at the famed 1976 Judgment of Paris – during which a panel of French judges ranked blind a flight of top white Burgundies against California Chardonnays – Napa's Chateau Montelena triumphed over its Old World analogs. 9. Beyond its still and sparkling versions, a select few exceptional sweet Chardonnays exist. The most famous is Alois Kracher's Trockenbeerenauslese Chardonnay, coming from Austria's Burgenland region. A handful of additional Austrian examples exist, as do a select few California late harvest Chardonnays. 10. As you may have guessed from bullets one through nine, Chardonnay is perhaps the wine world's most chameleonic grape variety. Its versatility derives from its relatively low varietal character. As such, Chardonnay can be particularly expressive of place, but also very transparent to the decisions of its winemaker. It's basically a blank canvas, and every decision from oak to bâtonnage to malolactic fermentation becomes tasteable beyond the norm. — Bryce Wiatrak Have you enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay recently? We want to see what you’re drinking! Scan the label or search by name to add your tasting notes on Delectable.

Bodega Catena Zapata

White Bones Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay 2009

Mint, lavender, granny smith apple, green banana, superb complexity and very unique characters. Excellent balance and quality. 4800 feet in elevation and planted in brittle ancient river bed soils of calcareous limestone.
Best new world Chardonnay for me a in a while.
— 4 years ago

LM liked this

Domaine des Comtes Lafon

Meursault-Porusots 1er Cru Chardonnay 2011

A lovely broad honeyed nose with a tinyhint of marzipan, a lemon curd note and a flinty bit. On the palate expansive and fresh. Lush. Great balance and concentration of fruit for a 2011 and good acidity and length. Lovely stuff — 3 years ago

Greg, Ira and 13 others liked this

Etienne Sauzet

Puligny-Montrachet Chardonnay 2013

Starts of quite shy, but with time and temperature the wine is reaching the sweet spot. Great intensity on both nose and palate, deep and layered with a ripe but fresh fruit, the oak is perfectly integrated and the stone crushed minerality is the icing on the cake that is putting the spell in bound. — a year ago

Maria liked this

Vincent Dauvissat

"Vaillons" Chablis 1er Cru Chardonnay 2012

Paul Costigan
9.1

2012: Ordered from the wine list at Chez Panisse, so the context behinds there. Silky lemon water was the first impression, which isn't unexpected from youthful Chablis. Citrus notes developing on the nose, and the palate also became more alluring. By the last sip a slightly tangy lemony custard revealed itself, so all in all a great choice to begin the meal. — 3 years ago

Michael Glasby
with Michael

Alois Kracher

No. 5 Nouvelle Vague Trockenbeerenauslese Chardonnay 2011

Rich and unctuous with plenty of honey, peaches and hints of orange. Plenty of acidity balanced this out. — 2 years ago

Shawn, Daniel and 2 others liked this

Au Bon Climat

Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2015

I hear a lot of good things about this winery and after tasting this wine, I can see why. Medium bodied with a fantastic balance of fruit and freshness. Tasted next to Pouilly-Fuisse and Napa Chard and it stole the show. — 2 years ago

Paul, leon and 3 others liked this

Bonneau du Martray

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Chardonnay 2013

2013 vintage. Minerality, citrus, crisp green apple and pear. Almonds. M+ acid. M body and finish. Very lean. Orange/tangerine zest. Needs time. Very little of this wine was made. Hold it if you have a bottle. — 3 years ago

Ira, Serge and 10 others liked this

Domaine Louis Michel

Montée de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru Chardonnay 2014

Gary Westby
9.3

A great 14. This has the extra ripeness that gives it a near Puligny like lime character, but crushed oyster shells that go on forever on the finish! — 2 years ago

Keith, David and 27 others liked this

Chateau Montelena

Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014

Founded in 1882 by Alfred Tubbs. In 1972, under the leadership of James Barrett, replanting began. Today Jim's son, Bo, is now its Master Winemaker. Ripe stone fruit aromas with notes of honey. In the palate crisp pear, melon and lemon zest come forth wrapped in vanilla oak. Lingering finish ending with creamy notes fruit ending with hints of pepper spice. — 2 years ago

Lisa, Daniel P. and 3 others liked this

Hubert Lamy

En Remilly Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Chardonnay 2010

David T
9.3

I bought my first vintage from this producer & terroir beginning with the 2010 vintage and what a vintage to start. I bought four bottles for right around $50 or a little less. They were so amazing, I drank through them in no time at all. For those of you that read my posts, that’s not normally what I do. I like to drink one & age the rest. Since then, I have looked & looked for more. I’d finally given up hopes of finding more until recently I struck gold. I should have bought all nine bottles but a calmer head prevailed. It’s definitely changed since having it fresh. On the nose, the fruits are slightly macerated. Heather honey, beeswax, golden & green apple, pineapple upside down cake, slight orange citrus blend, mango, glazed nuts, soft, delicate, chalky minerals, a touch of jasmine & yellow lilies. The body is much rounder & thicker than when it was young. Waxy. So, beautifully layered across the palate. Much of the palate matches the nose. Heather honey, beeswax, golden & green apple, apricots, peach, pineapple upside down cake, slight orange citrus blend, mango, slight molasses character & glazed nuts with citrus blossoms, yellow lilies & jasmine. The minerals are much more grippy & bold as they cut across and set on the palate. The acidity round & phat. The texture is amazing as is the length, balance & beautiful, rich, long finish that lasts two-minutes plus. So glad I found more of this wine! Hubert Lamy seriously over deliver the terroir & the price point by a country mile. If you are not buying this wine on pre-arrival, you are missing great wine and excellent value. Can’t say enough good things about it. Especially, the 2010. I expect the 15 to hold similar quality. Photos of; Olivier Lamy, Olivier working in this vineyard, barrel room and their Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Vineyard. Producer notes and history...There have been Lamy’ s growing vines in St-Aubin since 1640, today it is run by Olivier Lamy. Olivier is a new breed of Burgundian grower keen to progress. He trained Méo-Camuzet & made a number of vintages before taking over in 1996 from his father Hubert. Hubert Lamy used to sell fruit to négociants, but that stopped in 1997. He grubbed up and sold off peripheral vines, keeping only the best and oldest sites. Currently he is experimenting with different planting densities in a quest to capture even greater expression of terroir. The Domaine produces both reds and whites and now has 16.5 hectares of vineyards, mostly in St-Aubin but also own a few parcels in Chassagne-Montrachet and a tiny plot in the Grand Cru Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet. Yields are kept low and recent innovations have been introduced with selection tables in the cuverie to ensure that only the healthiest and ripest grapes are used. His more recent move to reduce the amount of new oak with the introduction of demi-muids 300-600 liter barrels have also helped to improve the wines. Vinification is traditional and the wines are matured with only 20-30% new oak for 12 months before minimal filtration and then bottling. The quality is very high and is often superior to many wines from much more prominent villages that sell at twice the price or more. — a year ago

Ryan, Paul and 16 others liked this
Severn Goodwin

Severn Goodwin Influencer Badge

Based on your prodding...I just bought some Lamy, the 'Vineyard behind Ed's' bottle, Derrière Chez Edouard (2013). I did see the En Remilly bottle, but choosing to work my way up to that one.
David T

David T Influencer Badge

You will not be disappointed.