CHARDONNAY

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PLACE OF ORIGIN

Burgundy, France

GROWING CLIMATES

Cool

Moderate

Warm

COMMON SYNONYMS

Epinette (Champagne)

Gamay Blanc (Jura)

Morillon (Austria)

PARENTAGE

Gouais Blanc x Pinot

MAJOR SIBLINGS

Aligoté

Auxerrois

Gamay Noir

Melon

Romorantin

Sacy

MUTATIONS

Chardonnay Rose

Chadonnay Musqué

PREFERRED SOIL

Calcareous Clay

Limestone

IN THE VINEYARD

Early Budding

Early Ripening

High Yielding

 

SUSCEPTIBILITY

Botrytis

Coulure

Millerandage

Powdery Mildew

Photo Courtesy of Wine Grapes Direct

OLD WORLD CHARDONNAY WINES

Old World wines are typically labeled by location rather than by the grape variety. The following regions are known for Chardonnay.

CHABLIS

Chablis is the northernmost region of Burgundy in France. This region requires all wines to be made from 100% Chardonnay. Many winemaking techniques are used in the region, however, the classic styles of wine from Chablis are unoaked.

WHITE BURGUNDY

White wines produced in French region of Burgundy are commonly 100% Chardonnay. Wines are labeled by location, rather than grape variety. The most common labels are Corton-Charlemagne, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Pouilly-Fuisse.

CHARDONNAY STYLES

Chardonnay is a unique variety in the fact that it grows well in all three growing climates, cool, moderate, and warm. Chardonnay expresses itself differently depending on its climate, below you will find the basics characteristics of Chardonnay from each climate. Due to this versatility Chardonnay is also often used in sparkling and sweet wine production. Winemaking techniques can alter the expression of each style, we have included common winemaking techniques with descriptions below.

SPARKLING

Chardonnay is a common grape variety used in sparkling wine production. Chardonnay, when bottled on its own, is often labeled as "Blanc de Blancs". When the grape is a part of a blend, Chardonnay offers elegance, acidity, and age ability to the wine.

SWEET

Chardonnay is susceptible to botrytis cinerea. When conditions in the vineyard are optimal, moist in the morning with sunshine and breeze in the afternoon, the fungus grows slowly and evenly. In this optimal scenario, the fungus creates tiny holes in the berry's skin which allows for evaporation of water and concentration of acids and sugars. During this process, flavors of ginger, saffron, honey, marmalade, chamomile, and more are imparted creating a sweet and complex wine.

COOL CLIMATE

Chardonnay grown in a cool climate typically exhibit these characteristics: 

FLAVORS

ROCKS

GREEN APPLE

LIME

STRUCTURE

 

BODY/TEXTURE

Light/Lean

ACIDITY

High

ALCOHOL

Low to Moderate

MAJOR REGIONS

CHABLIS

CHAMPAGNE

MODERATE CLIMATE

Chardonnay grown in a moderate climate typically exhibit these characteristics:

FLAVORS

LEMON

YELLOW APPLE

PEACH

PEAR

STRUCTURE

 

 

BODY

Moderate to Full

 

TEXTURE

Round

ACIDITY

Elevated

ALCOHOL

Elevated

MAJOR REGIONS

BURGUNDY

MENDOZA

CENTRAL COAST

COLUMBIA VALLEY

NAPA VALLEY

SONOMA

SANTA BARBARA

WILLAMETTE VALLEY

WALKER BAY

CASABLANCA

HAWKE'S BAY

MARLBOROUGH

MARGARET RIVER

YARRA VALLEY

WARM CLIMATE

Chardonnay grown in a warm climate typically exhibit these characteristics:

FLAVORS

MEYER LEMON

RED APPLE

MELON

PINEAPPLE

STRUCTURE

 

BODY

Full

TEXTURE

Flabby

ACIDITY

Low to Moderate

ALCOHOL

Elevated to High

MAJOR REGIONS

LANGUEDOC

CENTRAL VALLEY

ROBERTSON

SOUTH EASTERN

CENTRAL VALLEY

COMMON WINEMAKING TECHNIQUES (A-Z)

 

BÂTONNAGE:

Also known as "lees stirring", this process utilizes the yeast used for fermentation to add body, texture, and secondary flavors to the final wine. Once the yeast has finalized fermentation, the cells begin to break down in a process known as autolysis. To increase contact with wine, the broken down yeast cells (lees), are often stirred with a wand to impart more body and flavors of biscuits, bread, and more. 

MALOLACTIC CONVERSION:

Commonly referred to as "malo", this process converts tart, malic acid into round, lactic acid by way of a bacteria known as oenococcus oeni. This bacterial conversion occurs after alcoholic fermentation and adds secondary flavors to the wine such as butter, cream, yogurt, and other dairy notes. Along with flavors the process creates a round, creamy texture in the final wine.

NEW OAK CONTACT:

Often in the form of a barrel, however, oak chips may be used to recreate the effect of using barrels in a fraction of the time and cost. This contact can occur during fermentation and/or aging. The higher the char on the oak, the more flavor imparted into the wine. These flavors often consist of smoke, vanilla, baking spices, butterscotch, roasted nuts, and more. This process is very common in Chardonnay production so many new world wines that are not oaked are often labeled as "Unoaked".

IMPORTANT CHARDONNAY CLONES (A-Z)

 

DIJON CLONES:

There are over 20 different Dijon clones, the most common for high quality production are 76, 95, and 96.

FOUNDATION PLANT SERVICE CLONES (FPS):

FPS is known for creating numerous clones from vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington, Canada, France, Italy, and Germany.

GINGIN CLONE:

High quality clone with loose grape bunches and prone to millerandage.

The most planted Chardonnay clone in Margaret River. Known for complex and elegant styles of wine. Research has determined this clone is not the same as the Mendoza clone, they have shared origins in California, from a UC Davis block.

MENDOZA CLONE:

High quality clone with small clusters.

Widely planted in South America. Originally from a UC Davis block in California.

OLD WENTE CLONES:

Low yielding with small clusters and small berriesProne to coulure.

Widely planted Chardonnay in California. Originally from the Wente Vineyard in Livermore, CA.

PROSSER CLONE:

Low yielding with loose, small clusters. Prone to coulure.

Originally isolated at Washington State University.