“Chardonnay is the world's most famous white-wine grape and also one of the most widely planted.” says a trusty source I use each day on the internet. Who could argue that for choice of styles and quality Chardonnay beats the rest. From Champagne and Chablis the style is cool-climate - steely wines, all apple, pear, and green plum flavours, with enough acidity to cut through oily fish and poultry dishes. From southern Burgundy and New Zealand the style is temperate-climate - citrus, nectarine, melon, peach and apricot (sometimes referred to as stone-fruit) flavours. Whereas in the warm-climate style, as befitting California, Chile and much of Australia, its exotic flavours such as pineapple, banana, mango, guava, and fig.
How do all these flavours come from a single variety of grape? Well it’s all down to chemistry. The clever vines are sending out ‘come-and-eat-me’ signals to any passing muncher (including us I suppose!) in the form of terpenes, polyphenols, and more specific odorants, which the physiology of ripening stitches together to make a juicy treat and by scattering the pips obviously helps the vine to reproduce. And what one must consider is the more subtle message – ‘make me into wine and more wine’ by further planting and propagation. Chardonnay is the wine-makers dream grape. This noble variety of Vitis vinifera rewards the wine-maker who has choices to make: sweet or dry, oaky or mineral, still or sparkling (it does make the finest Champagne and British Fizz).
The very best examples are from the heartland of Burgundy but my choice for the month is
from the New World, a Chilean gem grown in the Leyda Valley by well-established family winery Unduragga (location displayed below). It is Sibaris Gran Riserva Chardonnay and is available online (www.goodwinonline.co.uk, who are based in Conwy, North Wales). The grapes for this wine while being vinified in the Maipo Valley, just south of Santiago, are sourced from nearer the sea with the cool on-shore breezes making the growing environment a temperate-climate region. The wine is described as having seductive aromas of citrus fruit peel, accompanied by fresh pear, white peach and honey flavours, all signs of substantial and refreshing fruit but with a satisfying development (that’s the honey effect). They manage as well to get expressive minerality and food-friendly acidity, which is clever enough and if descriptions mean anything they have packed in a lot of nice things in this attractively presented and moderately priced wine. Spare a thought when drinking of the clever and famous Chardonnay who has beguiled us again.
Clear Wine Co. Founder, shares his latest wine-based musings and expertise to get your taste buds tingling.