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Unveiling the World of Chardonnay: An Essential Guide to the Beloved White Wine

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With its well-known reputation and global acclaim, Chardonnay stands tall as one of the most popular white wines in the world. But what exactly is it about Chardonnay that has propelled it to such impressive heights of fame?

In this essential guide to Chardonnay, we delve into the charm and magnetism of this remarkable grape variety. From its ability to thrive in different climates to its enchanting flavor profile, Chardonnay has etched its name in the hearts of wine enthusiasts worldwide.

The origin of Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety that is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of France. The name "Chardonnay" is derived from the village of Chardonnay, which is located in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy. While the exact origins of the grape are not definitively known, it is thought to be a cross between the Pinot and Gouais Blanc grape varieties.

The grape has been successfully planted in many countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, and Argentina, among others, resulting in a diverse array of Chardonnay wines with different characteristics and flavors.

What does Chardonnay taste like?

As a primary grape variety, Chardonnay exhibits a diverse array of flavors and aromas. In cooler climates, such as Chablis in Burgundy or parts of California, Chardonnay expresses vibrant notes of green apple, lemon zest, and crisp acidity. These wines tend to be lighter-bodied with a mineral-driven character. In warmer regions like Australia, California's Central Coast, or parts of South America, Chardonnay takes on riper fruit flavors like tropical pineapple, ripe peach, and melon.

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Oaked vs Unoaked Chardonnay

The difference between oaked and unoaked Chardonnay lies in the winemaking process.

Oaked Chardonnay refers to wines that have undergone some degree of oak aging during the winemaking process. Typically, oak barrels are used for aging, though oak chips or staves may also be employed. The oak bestows flavors like vanilla, butterscotch, toast, and sometimes a hint of spice. Oaked Chardonnays often have a fuller body, a creamy texture, and a more complex flavor profile. The oak aging process adds complexity, richness, and depth to the wine, which often comes at a higher cost.

Unoaked Chardonnay, also known as "naked" or "unwooded" Chardonnay, refers to wines that are typically fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks or other inert containers. Unoaked Chardonnays showcase the pure expression of the grape's natural flavors and characteristics. They tend to have a crisper acidity, a lighter body, and a fresher, more fruit-forward profile. They are favored by those who appreciate a cleaner, more refreshing style of Chardonnay that allows the fruit to take center stage.

Unoaked vs Oaked Chardonnay

How to serve Chardonnay

When it comes to serving Chardonnay, a few key factors can enhance your enjoyment of this beloved white wine. Chardonnay is best served chilled. Aim for a serving temperature between 45°F to 55°F (7°C to 13°C) to allow the aromas and flavors to shine.

The versatile nature of Chardonnay allows it to pair well with a variety of foods, including cheeses. For oaked and fuller-bodied Chardonnays, consider rich and creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert. The luscious texture and buttery flavors of these cheeses beautifully complement the oak nuances and richness of the wine. Unoaked or lighter-bodied Chardonnays pair excellently with fresh and tangy cheeses such as goat cheese or feta. The acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of these cheeses, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

How many calories are in Chardonnay

The number of calories in Chardonnay can vary depending on the alcohol content and residual sugar levels of the specific wine. On average, a 5-fluid-ounce (148 mL) serving of Chardonnay typically contains around 120-130 calories. However, it's important to note that the calorie content can vary slightly from brand to brand due to variations in production methods and styles.

How long can you keep Chardonnay?

It's important to note that not all Chardonnays are intended for aging, and aging potential can vary greatly among different producers and vintages. Therefore, it's advisable to consult the specific wine producer's recommendations or consult with a knowledgeable wine professional for guidance on the aging potential of a particular Chardonnay before deciding to cellar it. Oaked Chardonnays can age for 5 to 10 years or even longer, gradually evolving in flavor and texture.

If you're unsure about a Chardonnay and want to taste it before fully opening the bottle, the Coravin Timeless device allows you to do just that. By extracting a small sample, you can evaluate the wine's color, aroma, and taste without exposing the rest of the wine to excessive oxygen or risking spoilage.

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A little Chardonnay goes a long way

Taste the difference with the Coravin Timeless, which allows you to taste wine without exposing the rest of the bottle to oxygen or risking spoilage.
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