International Chardonnay Day!
International Chardonnay Day is celebrated on the Thursday before the last Monday in May every year and is gathering momentum in many wine-producing countries worldwide.
This white grape has a long, noble history, starting with its Old World roots in Burgundy. Some of the most coveted, and therefore expensive, Chardonnays in the world come from this region in France. Chardonnay is also one of three base grapes for Champagne, and it's the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Eventually, the grape made its way to California, where it became the most widely planted white variety in the state. America fell in love with Chardonnay because it produces a wine that appeals to a broad audience.
Winemakers or brands tend to promote their Chardonnay as oaked or unoaked. A winemaker who wants their Chardonnay to taste crisp and bright often uses stainless steel to ferment and store the wine before bottling. This limits the influence of oxygen and retains the wine's fresh character. When a winemaker seeks to create a fuller-bodied wine with secondary flavours of vanilla and spice, they can ferment and age the wine in oak or ferment in stainless steel and age in oak afterwards. Oaked Chardonnay often undergoes partial or full malolactic fermentation (a process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer tasting lactic acid) while in barrel, as well as sees contact with the lees (dead yeast). The vanilla and spice flavours, plus round, creamy texture from micro-oxygenation, lees contact, and MLF produce a wine that is the stylistic opposite of unoaked Chardonnay.
Basically, Chardonnay is the friendliest grape around! This holds true for the many variations of Chardonnay taste, all of the various Chardonnay styles and the vast array of Chardonnay prices. There is absolutely something for everyone with this variety, and it is always a good wine for pairing with food.
Below we have selected 6 Chardonnays worldwide to show its diversity in styles, from a lighter, fruitier style to rich, full-bodied flavours of vanilla and spice!