You all know I love my wines, and especially my rich, buttery, oaked chardonnays. So when I found out that today, October 29, is Chardonnay day, I was overjoyed. In the world of wine, cabernet sauvignon is known as the king of wines and its partner and queen is chardonnay. Chardonnay grapes are the most widely planted grape variety in the world. They grow all in all regions, and in most types of soil. Though chardonnay grapes are very malieable, and can grow just about anywhere, they do have a few soil requirements to make them great. Chardonnay grapes need soil that is rich with clay, chalk and limestone. Today, chardonnay grapes are grown all over the world, but they originated in …. Chardonnay, in the Burgundy region of Eastern France. In California alone, there are over 100,000 acres of vineyards dedicated to chardonnay grapes alone and about 520,000 acres or 210,000 hectares worldwide.
The chardonnay grape is a neutral grape. Many of its flavors and characteristics come from the terroir or land and soil of the region where it is grown. There can be many different variations even within the same vineyard, depending on the soil. You can find many different types of chardonnays too, once again depending on where they are grown and produced. Some varieties are oaked and buttery, which are my favorites. They are rich and full bodied and often have hints and flavors of butter, vanilla or caramel. In cooler climates, chardonnays will have a more buttery taste. In warmer climates, the wines will take on more citrus and tropical fruit characteristics and they will be more light to medium bodied. A creamy chardonnay has hints of tropical fruits and butterscotch. It too is a rich chardonnay, and is very, very good. I will NEVER turn it down, that’s for sure.
Not only are are chardonnay grapes used for chardonnay wines, but they are also the basis for many other white wines as well, such as Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc and even champagne, just to name a few.
Chardonnay grapes after harvest.
Like all white wines, Chardonnay should be served chilled. If the wine is too warm, the alcohol tastes hot while the flavors are muddled. Too cold, and the aromas and flavors are muted. The best temperature range is 50–55°F, which can be achieved by two hours in the refrigerator or 30–40 minutes in an ice-water bath.
The most famous chardonnay in the world, is from Chateau Montalena, in Napa Valley, California. It is “famous for winning the white wine section of the historic “Judgment of Paris” wine competition, in 1975. Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay was in competition with nine other wines from France and California under a blind tasting, with 11 judges participating in the event. All 11 judges awarded their top scores to either the Chardonnays from Chateau Montelena or Chalone Winery, another California wine producer”, which was represented in the 2008 movie Bottle Shock. There is even a bottle of this famous wine displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. Since I am originally from California, I am partial and perhaps more than a little biased towards the California wines, although I have had many, many good chardonnays from numerous other places in the world, such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa too. And yes, even France.
THE famous bottle of Chateau Montelena Wine that beat the French wine in the historic “Judgment of Paris” wine competition now forever to be remembered in the Smithsonian Institute. (This picture was taken in 2017).
The Chateau Montelena Vineyards in Napa Valley, California.
So celebrate this day of Chardonnay and sit back and enjoy a glass or two. It doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be Chateau Montelena; just something you enjoy. Although, if you have Chateau Montelena, it is a VERY, VERY good wine to enjoy. I highly recommend it.