The entire wine drinking world has been springing for glasses of Chardonnay for ages! It is the second most planted white wine grape in the world, the world’s most widely grown white grape variety, the grape responsible for some of the world’s most coveted wines, and its popularity is so profound that the very name Chardonnay is nearly synonymous with white wine. The lively, lovely, lip-smacking character of Chardonnay is always an excellent choice to complement your favorite springtime meals!
Chardonnay’s trademark flavors of pear and apple are always intact, but its further expression can be heavily influenced by winemaking techniques, climate, and desired style. Popular styles range from the lean precision of Chablis with its incisive chalk, citrus, mineral, and quince flavors, to the ripe and full-bodied heft of Santa Barbara or Southern Australia with their baked apple, peach, fig, pineapple, and vanilla flavors. Of course, every region provides its own particular expression between these two extremes of style, and that overall worldwide range of expression is nearly endless.
VITICULTURE + WINEMAKING
Chardonnay is the result of a spontaneous crossing between Gouais Blanc and Pinot. It is an early budding variety which makes it susceptible to frost damage, but it also ripens early which allows it to work well in areas that are cool or have short growing seasons. Chardonnay performs well in a wide range of soils and climates; this is a factor that helped it to become one of the world’s most ubiquitous grape varieties. Also, it can produce a fairly high yield without much loss of quality, and there are many available clones that can produce an array of different flavors. Chardonnay has proven supremely malleable in the winery with its affinity for lees stirring, malolactic conversion, barrel fermentation, and barrel aging, and producing Chardonnay has become nearly a rite of passage for most emerging wine regions.
FOOD + WINE
Chardonnay’s supreme versatility makes it a natural with an enormous range of fare, especially the light to medium-bodied dishes that are so well-favored during springtime. Cool climate Chardonnay complements lighter foods like sushi and grilled fish, while light and fruity styles of Chardonnay are perfect with everything from creamy chicken in white wine sauce to dishes with butter sauces. Heavier oak-aged versions pair well with dishes like grilled salmon and grilled cheese sandwiches, and mature styles are brilliant with umami-rich foods like seared scallops and mushroom risotto. Chardonnay should be your springtime stalwart at the dinner table!
Spring for Chardonnay, Banshee