Chardonnay is arguably the world’s most famous white variety, thanks to its success in France’s Burgundy region as well as throughout much of California. Chardonnay on its own has rather straightforward, pleasant aromas of apple and pear, but when aged (and sometimes fermented) in small oak barrels, the wines take on extra richness as well as notes of toasted almond, vanilla and yeast.
The most renowned examples of Chardonnay are from small villages and vineyards in Burgundy, such as Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. These wines are very powerful with ample spicy notes and very good acidity; they age very well, sometimes as long as 20-25 years. Another part of Burgundy, Chablis, is home to more restrained style of Chardonnay. Certain areas of California, especially Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Barbara County are also home to many distinguished examples of Chardonnay, with those from the latter region often displaying tropical fruit flavors.
Given that most Chardonnnays are aged in small oak barrels, there has been a movement as of late to give consumers a mored delicate style of Chardonnay, without all the spicy and toasty flavors. Thus there are now many producers that produce non-oak aged Chardonnays; this has been seen from many producers from Australia as well as a few in California as well.
Chardonnay, especially oak-aged versions, are quite rich and need seafood of equal richness at the dinner table. Thus lobster, halibut and swordfish are ideal food pairings.