- August 06, 2019
Chardonnay is a word that practically everyone has heard of, but few people actually know what it means. It refers to the type of grapes that are used to make wine, which is most likely how you heard of the term. Chardonnay is one of the most widespread grapes in the world, as it was carried over from the Old World to the New World when the Americas were discovered. From there, it was grown practically everywhere in the world where wine is grown, including Australia, South America, and Southeast Asia.
However, due to its popularity, Chardonnay has been looked down upon by many critics as they think nothing new can be done to the grapes anymore, but that might not be true. In this article, we’ll go through the history of Chardonnay to learn more about how it got here and figure out where future winemakers will take it. That said, let’s get to it.
Where Did Chardonnay Grapes Come From?
Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape that was first grown in the region of the same name in the southern part of Burgundy, called Mâconnais. It’s where the oldest Chardonnay vineyards are located, which has led many to believe that it’s actually where all Chardonnay wines come from.
The heritage of Chardonnay grapes can be traced back for thousands of years, ever since the region was under the control of the Roman Empire. Despite periods of unrest in the area over the years, Chardonnay grapes still remained, and they have been thriving and branching into many different species. The grapes are thought to be a crossbreed of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc, which also makes it one of the oldest crossbred species of grapes in history.
The Rise of Chardonnay
There are many documents that state that Pinot Noir was considered to be the best wine grapes and the price of these fruits were extremely high due to the difficulty of the cultivation process. Pinot Noir is highly sensitive to even the slightest change in the moisture level and the quality of soil, which means it’s only available in a small part of the world. Gouais Blanc, on the other hand, is very easy to grow, which is partly the reason why the aristocrats at the time considered it to be a peasant’s wine. It’s speculated that some grape farmers had the idea of crossbreeding these two strains of grapes together to create a species of high-quality wine grape that is also easy to grow. This idea gave birth to many different breeds of grapes, including Aligote, Gamay, Melon de Bourgogne, Romorantin, Sacy, and of course, Chardonnay.
How Do Experts See Chardonnay?
Despite its drop in popularity, Chardonnay still has a place in the hearts of wine enthusiasts around the world. It’s considered by many to be the Father of Wine, as it’s thought to be one of the oldest and most balanced wines there is. Its slightly sweet and tangy flavour make it one of the easiest wines to drink, which is why some call it the Gateway Grape. Most winemakers tend to make a dryer wine with Chardonnay grapes, as their natural sugar content and mild acidic profile allow the wine to be naturally sweet. Additionally, its versatile pairing option also makes it quite a popular choice in restaurants, which furthers its reputation as a generic wine. This has both positive and negative effects on the grapes, as many experts look at it as a sign of mediocrity, which is not at all fair, given the potential of the wine.
Chardonnay has a key place in the winemaking world, as there are more things that we have yet to discover with this incredible wine.
As the style of this wine varies considerably from winery and winemaker preferences there is no other white wine that can boast such regal standards and differing styles. Chardonnay in our opinion is a still a king among white wine varieties.
As a consumer, it is time to reintroduce yourself to Chardonnay and harness a better understanding of it by practical means a.k.a drink more of it a varying price points and from different regions and you too will discover one that you love.
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