A Wine Lover’s View Of Grapes – The White Chardonnay

According to the well-known expert Dr. Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis, Chardonnay is the result of a natural cross between the famous red grape, Pinot Noir, and the infamous white grape, Gouais Blanc, which was actually banned in France. Many people feel that Chardonnay stems from the Burgundy area of eastern France, where it is still a dominant varietal. This grape has long been found in the Champagne area of northeastern France. Chardonnay is the dominant white grape of the great still wines of Burgundy, especially those of the Cote d’Or and Chablis. It is the only white grape that is allowed in Champagne. Chardonnay is a major white grape in Italy, South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and in the United States, in particular California and Oregon.

Chardonnay adapts well to a wide range of locations, including warm irrigated regions such as Australia, and cool, rainy regions such as Champagne (in France, just in case you didn’t know). Its bouquet and taste vary greatly in function of the climate and other natural growing conditions, and the winemaker’s art. Chardonnay usually spends quite some time in oak barrels, both during fermentation and aging, often in the presence of expired yeast cells (sur lie). Warm-climate Chardonnays are fruity and rich and tend to age well. Cool-climate Chardonnays often have a fresh, acidic taste with more delicate fruit flavors. The present trend is towards cool-climate Chardonnays. The Champagne region of France is one of the northernmost wine growing areas on earth. It is north of Paris and at the same longitude as Newfoundland, Canada, which produces little, if any, wine. Blanc de blancs Champagnes are made exclusively from Chardonnay. Most Champagnes blend Chardonnay with Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier or perhaps both.

Chardonnay is a fine accompaniment to seafood such as Crab, Lobster, Oysters, and Shrimp and with fish including Red Snapper, Striped Bass, and Tuna. It is a fine partner for Crudites, Pasta, and Quiche. Of course it makes a difference whether the Chardonnay-based wine is exuding those precious little bubbles or not. Enjoy Champagne with virtually any high-quality food, or on its own.

I have reviewed many Chardonnays from quite a variety of countries including France, Argentina, Chile, California (since when is California a country?), Italy, Israel, and others. These wines came in a variety of price ranges, starting at less than $10 and going up to $50. I tasted them with many different foods.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine Iwine with good company. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. His Italiian  travel website is http://www.travelitalytravel.com .

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