Chardonnay White Wine
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world. Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, and is one of the most diverse and widely planted white grapes. Today it is grown everywhere from Argentina to Australia, South Africa and Germany. Learn more about the white wine ahead.
Chardonnay tasting characteristicsFor a long time, the reputation of Australian chardonnay was mired by the butter-yellow, toffee-scented chardonnays produced in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, more appropriate environments and less heavy-handed winemaking have created examples that are lighter and more restrained.
There are two primary styles of chardonnay, and fans tend to prefer one or the other. There is the classic rich, buttery, oak-influenced style, and the one that is lean, citrusy and fresh. In Australian chardonnay today, more wines have found a middle ground, offering the best of both worlds.
Origins of chardonnayA native of Burgundy in France, chardonnay has flourished in the Australian wine industry. James Busby brought the first cuttings to Australia in the 1830s, but it took more than a century until the variety grew to prominence. Initially, the production of Australian chardonnay was limited to a smaller scale and the domestic market largely consumed the wines produced.
Cue the 1980s, and robust Australian chardonnay began to flex its muscles. International wine lovers soon began devouring these rich, ripe and buttery styles. As the next decade-and-a-half rolled around, however, winemakers and viticulturists recognised that public tastes were changing, with the demand for crisper white wines growing. This threat to the traditional style of chardonnay was emphasised by the emergence of New Zealand’s Marlborough sauvignon blanc; a zesty, high-acid alternative to chardonnay’s fruit-filled oak flavours.
Australian winemakers began to look for new avenues of producing chardonnay – not an impossible task given chardonnay is a variety that readily submits to the whims of its makers. Thus, the current style of Australian chardonnay, considered among the best in the world, was born.
How to pair food with chardonnayGiven its many guises, the world is your figurative oyster when it comes to chardonnay and food. A young, unoaked, cool-climate chardonnay is the perfect match to delicate dishes such as steamed fish and grilled chicken. It also works with fattier dishes like pasta with cream sauce or seafood chowder. When pairing this style of chardonnay with cheese, look to comté or gruyere. As the oak and fruit flavours in a chardonnay increase, one of the ultimate food matches is roast chicken.
Chardonnay with heavy oak can be enjoyed with the richest of dishes: pork belly with crackling, salads with creamy dressings, and buttery and cheese-laden risottos.
Serving temperature for chardonnayThe ideal serving temperature for chardonnay is 11–12 degrees.
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The best Australian chardonnay regionsChardonnay is planted in almost every wine-producing region in Australia. Its versatility is such that James Halliday says chardonnay is: “The most malleable and compliant of all the great white wine grapes, giving the impression it would even grow up a telegraph pole in the centre of Sydney or Melbourne and produce a more than half-decent wine.”