Chardonnay Wines

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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For such a thin-skinned little thing, the Chardonnay grape has excellent coping skills. Although this pale green fruit's "spiritual home" is said to be the vine-country of Burgundy, France, it can be found planted and thriving in nearly every wine growing region across the globe. It adapts well to nearly all climates, and can absorb a myriad of flavors.

Thin Skinned, But Sturdy

Chardonnay grapes are famously found in Champagne and white Burgundy. But they can also be found in wines from Southern France, Australia, Eastern Europe, Italy, New Zealand, the United States, South Africa, and South America. The characteristics can vary considerably from region to region. It takes on flavors unique to all parts of the globe, from butter and vanilla to tropical fruits, including melon and pineapple. In Burgundy, experts say it can have a "wet wool" quality; in Chablis, it's called "flinty."

Most Chardonnays are fermented and aged in oak. In fact, Chardonnay is more often aged in oak casks than any other varietal white wine. At times, the flavor imparted by the wood is nearly inseparable from the overall impression.

The best Chardonnays are bold, rich, with complex flavors including figs, butter, honey, and spice. Look for those described as medium bodied, and medium-dry. To be able to recognize bench-mark quality, check out Chardonnays from the land in which they were perfected. White Burgundies are considered by many to be the standard to which other wineries aspire. Many are available for well under $20.00.

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