PLACE OF ORIGIN
Gamay Blanc (Jura)
Gouais Blanc x Pinot
IN THE VINEYARD
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
Chardonnay grown in a cool climate typically exhibit these characteristics:
Low to Moderate
Chardonnay grown in a moderate climate typically exhibit these characteristics:
Moderate to Full
Chardonnay grown in a warm climate typically exhibit these characteristics:
Low to Moderate
Elevated to High
COMMON WINEMAKING TECHNIQUES (A-Z)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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 berries. Prone to coulure.
Widely planted Chardonnay in California. Originally from the Wente Vineyard in Livermore, CA.
Low yielding with loose, small clusters. Prone to coulure.
Originally isolated at Washington State University.