Some grapes get a bad rap. For no good reason. Or because of an Oscar nominated film (now everyone feels self-conscious ordering Merlot).
Chardonnay is one of those grapes…sometimes. Ordering it sends a variety of messages. One can be “I usually drink Box wine and this is what it says on the outside of the ‘white’ one.” Or it can say, “I wanted to order white zinfandel but people are watching, so this is the next thing on my list.”
On the other hand, it can mean “I love delicious wine, and so I ordered some of that.”
Ok, so this is clearly not a picture of Chardonnay, but this is my best friend and the girl with whom I’ve drinken/dranken/drunk more wine than anyone, so contextually, its appropriate.
Chardonnay originated in France, and is now most commonly found in blends from Chablis and Burgundy. The old world version of this grape is buttery, rich and smooth. In California, there is often more emphasis on aging the wine in oak barrels, or even adding oak chips to the barrels. This creates a very different flavor than what you might find in the French blends.
Both are very good, sometimes you want a little wood flavor in your glass. Seriously. In fact, that reminds me–Homework.
Buy a Burgundy (remember, Bourgogne) Chardonnay, and then a California Chardonnay. Try them. Taste them. Report back on the differences. If you are really feeling crazy (maybe its Wednesday) try a third from Chablis (a “subregion” of Burgundy), or even a champagne, which is often made with Chardonnay grapes.
Ok I’m teasing, you don’t have to do all three at once. But I’m also not the boss of you, so feel free to do as you please.
- Bachelder’s Trio of 2009 Chardonnays (sommelierscribbler.com)
- Oregon Chardonnay Finds Its Voice – NYTimes.com (aliciatasteslife.wordpress.com)
- All Soaked In Wine (sanghamitraatwinesutra.wordpress.com)