of two "noble" white grapes grown. A medium to full-bodied white
wine that often suggests hints of green apples, pears and, sometimes,
spice. Known to be one of the most complex, long-lived dry white
wines made. In Burgundy, France, Chardonnay reaches its pinnacle
of perfection along with its pinnacle of price. While many California,
Italian and Australian winemakers use Burgundy as their model, few
have been able to attain the components in their wines that send
wine connoisseurs into rhapsodic ramblings. Should
be served cool, but not too cold.
principle factors determining the outcome of the finished wine are:
the ripeness at harvest (riper grapes have less acid and are thus
softer tasting); Malolactic Fermentation, the converting of the
harsh malic acid (found in green apples) to the softer, creamer
lactic acid (found in milk) thus the terms "creamy" and "buttery"
used to describe the wine; and finally oak. Whether used during
or after fermentation, the age of the barrels and the length of
time held, oak can either enhance or obliterate the flavors of the
the low end, the wines have some similarity to Chile; light, simple
and refreshing. The upper end tends toward the California style
of big, buxom and oaky offerings that often intensify the oak by
using American wood.
styles are made in a bigger, riper style with appreciable oak. Some
wines from the cooler areas like Santa Barbara, Carneros and Mendocino,
make a leaner, crisper style, but the linchpin is always the presence
or absence of oak. Malolactic fermentation also plays a large role
as well. It gives the soft, buttery components that seem to be a
favorite of most consumers.
is the top of the world for Chardonnay. From the simplest, yet appealing
Macon to the gigantic and imposing Montrachets, no area offers the
presence and power of this grape like the Côtes de Beaune. Price
here, however, is not a guarantee of quality, although generally
the expensive wines are better than the less expensive wines.
of the Chardonnay is grown in the northeast, specifically Trentino,
Friuli and the Veneto. Those producers tend to make a lighter, less
oak influenced wine as has been the style for over a century. Small
pockets in Tuscany, Sicily and Piedmont produce handsome, large
scale wines that have rivaled the best in the world in both quality
cool climate here forces a predisposition to cleaner, crisper wines
with higher acids than most areas. But again, the style is still
up to the desire of the winemaker and, while plantings are increasing
here, there isn't enough around to form a consistent opinion regarding
the gamut from Australia's big, oak driven style to New Zealand's
crisper style. Still evolving, but promising
price point doesn't allow for much oak maturation or fermentation.
Thusly, most of their wines are of the lighter style with some oak
influence, but generally not a lot. Argentina has produced several
larger scale wines that mimic their California counterparts but
are not priced as high. Of course, that can always change.
comes from the northeast around Catalonia. They tend to be California
in style, but there's not enough with which to make a style judgment.
York's climate can create a wine with cleaner, crisper components.
Once again, the amount of oak will determine the outcome, especially
when combined with malolactic fermentation. Washington tends to
follow California's style. Oregon tends toward a leaner, less oak
calls it "Morillion" and makes some very unique and exciting offerings.
Mexico has had a few standouts on the Ensenada plateau.