5 Fast Facts: Chardonnay
5 Fast Facts: Countdown these facts from 5 (commonly known), to 1 (geek level), with frequent Plume Ridge Bottle Shop blog writer, Patty Lyn Tweten. Find out how much you know about Chardonnay — the grape, the wine, the phenomenon. Check out our Chardonnay selection here.
5. It is ubiquitous: Chardonnay is everywhere and grown in every continent except Antarctica. The biggest producer is France—also its origin—with 126,000 acres under cultivation. The US, currently in second place with 106,000 acres, momentarily took the lead in the late 1980’s worldwide Chardonnay boom. In the 1990s, Chardonnay became a victim of its own celebrity and was edged out by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Currently, just under 500,000 acres are grown worldwide.
4. It sparkles: If you're enjoying a sparkling wine you’re probably drinking Chardonnay. It is the main ingredient in the world’s best sparkling wines and the sole ingredient in Champagne’s Blanc des Blancs. Most American Blanc des Blancs and white sparklers are made from Chardonnay.
3. It’s a Chameleon: The Chardonnay grape flavor profile is tricky to pigeonhole. It is influenced by region, yield, acidity and the skilled hands of the winemaker. Flavor notes range from peach and pineapple to tropical fruit depending on fermentation temperature. Oak fermentation adds pastry flavors such as pie crust and baking spices. Secondary fermentation takes you to the dairy case with notes of butter and creme fraiche. Location is by far the biggest taste determinant. The most renown terrior is in France’s Chablis and Burgundy regions. In fact, Chablis and White Burgundy are 100% Chardonnay.
2. Top of the Pops? One would think that Chardonnay is the world’s most popular white grape varietal. Not quite. It turns out that more acres of a grape you’ve never heard of—Airén— are grown, almost exclusively, in Spain. Spanish Dictator, Francisco Franco, thought that exporting Spanish Brandy made from the Airén grape would alleviate poverty during his reign. The grapes remain, he didn’t. Go figure.
1.Chardonnay is a Love Match: Chardonnay was first cultivated in Chablis in the 12th century by Cistertian Monks. The grape resulted from a spontaneous crossing of Pinot Noir and another grape you’ve never heard of, Gouais Blanc. This white grape of ancient origin is a hardy grower and a vigorous hybridizer. It has been called the Cassanova of the grape world because it has parented so many grape varietals.
Patty Lyn Tweten is a writer, graphic designer and Pinot Noir vineyard owner. Working exclusively in the wine industry, her writing inspiration comes from visual design work and her own front yard. Website Facebook Instagram Linkedin