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Key grapes: Chardonnay

Time to talk some TRUTH about Chardonnay!

As discussed in the video, Chardonnay is one of the greatest grapes in the world and also one of the most versatile. The ability to grow in a wide range of soil types, temperatures, and climatic situations combined with winemakers being able to really shape the flavor (Chardonnay is a classic “blank canvas”) makes for a wild range of styles.

I like to focus on the terroir of Chardonnay, learning the differences between different regions.

Regarding oak, don’t get too fixated on how much is used in a particular wine. A well balanced wine is a well balanced wine, simple as that. Yes, if too much oak is used (or the wine doesn’t have enough fruit to absorb that oak) there can be problems. But often a wine out of balance is also because of mis-used malolactic fermentation, adding too much creaminess to the wine.

Here’s a good article on a top Chardonnay producer and changes they have made over the years: https://blog.jordanwinery.com/five-changes-to-jordan-chardonnay-winemaking-can-you-taste-the-difference/

In the end, here are my two cents. It’s easy to make cheap, simple, and forgettable Chardonnay. It’s incredibly difficult to make balanced, detailed, yet rich Chardonnay. There is a whole lot of room in-between, so you often get what you pay for.

A challenge to you, maybe when gathering with wine friends: buy three bottles of Chardonnay, one at $12, one at $25, and one at $50+. Chill them down and serve them blind and see how much of a difference you find. By then numbers, as you get more expensive they should double in quality, but do they? Does the $12 bottle stand out? (Hint: it should.) Does the $50 bottle stand out? (Hint: it may not.)

Links to understand key regions for Chardonnay

California: Santa Barbara County (Sta. Rita Hills in particular)

California: Santa Barbara County (Santa Maria in particular)

California: Monterey County

California: Sonoma County (Russian River Valley in particular)

California: Sonoma County (Sonoma Coast in particular)

California: Napa Valley (and others … this is a great article)

Oregon: Willamette Valley

Australia: Barossa Valley

France: Burgundy – Chablis

France: Burgundy – Côte d’Or

France: Burgundy – Côte Chalonnaise

France: Burgundy – Mâcon

From Wine Enthusiast: Hooray for Chardonnay: Finding the World’s Best Bottles