Chardonnay is Simply a Charmer
In Australia we know how to make world class Chardonnays – there's no doubting that. But as one of the world's most planted and popular wine grapes, the discerning lovers of our home grown Chardonnay would do well to try out other delicious examples from lesser known Australian areas and across the world. The first question, of course, is where to begin?
Lovers of Australian Chardonnays, whether bolder Hunter Valley Chardonnays or more svelte versions from the Yarra Valley, will love Chardonnay from the Canberra and Tumbarumba districts of NSW as well as from Tasmania. Tasmanian wines are hot property right now and rightly so!
If you're looking to give yourself a crash course in all things Chardonnay, the best place to start is the grape's native region: Burgundy, France.
Chardonnay dominates many Burgundian vineyards, from up north in Chablis all the way down to the Mâconnais in the south. Wherever they're from, thanks to Burgundy's cool climate Chardonnays here are mouth-wateringly refreshing. They're a must-try for those who love minerality in wine. The grand cru wines of Burgundy are amongst some of the most expensive white wines in the entire world. Thankfully you can step down to the premier cru or even village level and still get delicious, classic Chardonnay.
Down in the Languedoc in France where the Mediterranean sun meets the sea, Chardonnay is riper and more New World in style. You'll find ripe pear, melon, apricot and tropical fruits in Languedoc Chardonnays that are absolutely gorgeous for sipping year round.
New World Vines Make Fine, Fine Wines
If you enjoy Australian Chardonnay, you'll find the style in the USA to be an interesting adventure. With both oaked and unoaked styles, California's Chardonnays are great for exploring the grape. In the USA, the most famous region for Chardonnay is Napa Valley in California. It's grown throughout the state, but Napa is the place that put the spotlight on American wine and Chardonnay was a major player. Here, grapes get super-ripe in the warm climate and ample sunshine. Ripe pineapple, juicy melon, and mandarin are all common in these wines.
South of the equator in Chile, winemakers are making top quality cool climate Chardonnays in the foothills of the Andes mountains. The Casablanca Valley in central Chile is renowned for elegant, bright versions, which are kept a little cooler by the Pacific currents down there.
Chardonnay, as Versatile as it is Prolific
Chardonnay, no matter where it's from, is a great wine for every occasion. There's a reason people love it so! One of its many appealing characteristics is how versatile it is with food and the weather. Because it is can be either oaked or unoaked, ripe or more restrained, there's a Chardonnay for many a meal throughout the year. Fish, poultry, many vegetable dishes, even lighter meats like pork or veal are excellent with a glass of Chardonnay. An oaked version is perfect for when the temperatures dip and you need something with a bit of weight in your glass, while the lighter cool climate Chardonnays are brilliant as soon as the weather gets warm again.
Looking for an Alternative to Chardonnay?
Once you've completed your round-the-world tour of Chardonnay, be sure to branch out and experience new wines. Need suggestions? Look to fellow French varieties like Picpoul and Chenin Blanc for a richer style or the Italian Arneis and Vermentino for something lighter and full of zesty acidity. Even the most hardcore Chardonnay drinkers are sure to love these wines.