“Knowing the grape is to love the wine”

The Chardonnay grape and wine. After the harvest the winemaker makes his choices.

Chardonnay; the grape and the wine

When choosing a wine it is always nice to know the most important characteristics of a wine grape. That way you know what you can expect in terms of taste. As with any wine, various factors determine the taste that the wine ultimately receives. The grape variety, the soil, the climate, the choices and skills of the winegrower.
Nonetheless, I can give a number of characteristics.

Chardonnay, a versatile grape

The Chardonnay is a rewarding, versatile wine grape. It can be grown successfully in many climates. From cool- to warm climates. That is why it is a popular grape. It can also be used as a monocépage or in a blend. In addition, it can be used to make wine with or without maturing on wood. Because the Chardonnay is so popular amongst winemakers and therefore the wine available everywhere, there are people who absolutely no longer want Chardonnay, calling “ABC” (Anything But Chardonnay). However, this is just trying to be trendy and has nothing to do with quality.

Chardonnay grape and Chardonnay wine
The Chardonnay grape

Chardonnay, an early maturing grape

The Chardonnay matures early. This means that it is sometimes 2 weeks earlier than other wine grapes in the same vineyard. That can be an important factor for the winemaker to choose this grape. Certainly in cooler areas. It may be precisely the time that can determine if the harvest can be done on time before stormy autumn weather spoils it.

Characteristics of the Chardonnay wine

Depending on the climate one can expect 1 or more of these characteristics:

Cooler climate: Warmer climate :
Higher acidity Medium acidity
Medium body More body
Medium alcohol Higher in alcohol
Aromas more towards citrus, green apple Same aromas completed with stonefruits and tropical fruits
Mineral. FlintWithout wood: idem

With wood:
butter, popcorn, toast, vanilla, honey,

The Chardonnay style without wood often comes from Chablis en Mâconnais( France) and West-Australia

Countries where good Chardonnay wines are being made

France ( Bourgogne, Chablis, Champagne, Loire, Languedoc, Ardèche, Jura, Savoie)
US ( California, New York State, Oregon, Washington)
Australia ( Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Margaret River)
Chili ( Casablanca Valley, Central Valley)
South-Africa ( Walker Bay)
Argentina ( Mendoza)
New-Zealand ( Marlborough)


The Chardonnay is also used to make sparkling wines. Even in a Champagne as a monocépage or in blends. Often we see “Blanc de Blancs” at the label of a monocépage sparkling Chardonnay wine as a reference to the Chardonnay grapes.

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