What is Chardonnay? 

Chardonnay is a white grape variety from France where it makes the famous white wines from Burgundy, France, like Chablis, Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne. Today it is grown around the world and made into dry white wines at every quality level. It also is an important component of high-quality sparkling wines, notably those of Champagne, France.

What does Chardonnay taste like?  

Chardonnay’s fruit expression changes with the climate it is grown in: cooler regions bring forth notions of citrus and pome fruit like apple and pear, warmer climes turn that into riper stone fruit flavours of plum and peach and eventually tropical notes of mango and pineapple. Chardonnay is not as openly aromatic as some other white varieties, but it has a great affinity for oak-ageing and malo-lactic fermentation, both of which can be key flavour elements of Chardonnay. When aged in French oak, Chardonnay can have smoky, nutty, toasty expressions while American oak can give notions of vanilla, coconut and popcorn. Malo-lactic fermentation, where the wine’s sharp malic acid is converted into softer lactic acid, can bring forth creamy notions of dairy, ranging from cold butter to yoghurt. There also always is a textural element to Chardonnay. 

Where is Chardonnay from?  

Chardonnay is a natural crossing of Pinot and Gouais Blanc that must have occurred centuries ago, somewhere in the Saône-et-Loire region of eastern France. 

Where does Chardonnay grow?  

Chardonnay today grows in wine regions across the world. Its climatic adaptability allows it to thrive in cool, marginal climates like England, in the hotter regions of Australia, California and South Africa and anywhere in between. It is the world’s second most planted white grape variety and it is likely that anywhere you go in the world where wine is grown, somebody grows Chardonnay. 

Famous Chardonnay regions:  

  • Chablis, Burgundy, France 
  • Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France 
  • Mâconnais, Burgundy, France 
  • Sonoma, California, USA 
  • Limarí Valley, Chile 
  • Margaret River, Austrlia 
  • Adelaide Hills, Australia 
  • Yarra Valley, Asutrlia, 
  • Walker Bay, South Africa, 

Anything else?  

French poet Eustace Deschamps, who died in 1406, already sung that Chablis was perfect for oysters, but we do not know if Chablis wines at the time were made from Chardonnay. 

Our selection of great Chardonnay  

  • Coche-Dury, Burgundy, France 
  • Comte Lafon, Burgundy, France 
  • Kistler, Sonoma, California 
  • Cullen, Margaret River, Austrlia 
  • Shaw & Smith, Adelaide Hills, Australia 
  • Kumeu River, Auckland, New Zealand 

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