Chardonnay 2Not a fan of Chardonnay? Tried it a couple of times and found it not to your taste? I’d like to suggest giving this chameleon grape a second look, so here are 5 reasons for rediscovering Chardonnay.

Glass of wine1) There’s a style to suit everyone.

Like your wine dry and fruity with crisp acidity? Perhaps with some citrus aromas? Before you grab a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, why not give an unoaked Chardonnay from a cool climate region a try?  You may be surprised by those fresh lemon and green apple notes and its zesty acidity.  Or if it’s from a slightly warmer region, it will still be refreshing but may remind you of more tropical fruits, like pineapples and mango or passionfruit.

Check out Ventisquero Kalfu Kuda (Leyda Valley) for a fresh, fruity Chardonnay for sipping on the terrace, which offers a lovely combination of citrus and more tropical fruit aromas.

Like some fresh, fruity acidity but would prefer it had a little more body and a smooth texture? A Chardonnay with a little bit of oak might just strike the right balance.

Check out: Quintay Gran Reserva Chardonnay (Casablanca Valley) for a well-balanced wine with refreshing acidity and a pleasant, silky mouthfeel with some herbal notes among the fruit.

Or Kingston Family Vineyards, Sabino Chardonnay (Casablanca Valley) with its lovely aromas of tropical fruit , together with pears and a herbal hint. Very nice example of Chardonnay, beautifully rounded and silky with just a hint of sweetness.

Looking for a complex white wine to knock your socks off? Well, you’ve got it!  Some winemakers go to town and give their Chardonnay every treatment in the book – fermentation in oak to give it sweet spicy aromas, malolactic fermentation to turn the sharp malic acid into softer-tasting lactic acid and add notes of butterscotch, and stirring up the yeast during the process – known as lees stirring – to make it feel creamy in your mouth.

Chardonnay is one of the classic Champagne grapes
Chardonnay is one of the classic Champagne grapes

2) It comes in many guises.

This is a chameleon grape. Mention Chardonnay and you could be forgiven for thinking dry white wine. But let’s not forget that Chardonnay is one of the top grapes for Champagne and sparkling wine production. Often blended with one or both of the other Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, it contributes acidity, light, elegant body and citrus and green fruit to your glass of sparkling.

And did you know that there are some quite outstanding sweet Chardonnay wines out there? A few wineries make late harvest wines with grapes picked very late in the season, when all the other grapes have long been harvested. They are picked late as the longer they are left hanging on the vines, the more concentrated and sweet their flavours. In some countries, these late harvest grapes are affected by botrytis, lending them complex aromas and flavours.

salmon fillet, crushed potatoes and asparagus
Chardonnay would be a good bet with pan-fried salmon fillet, crushed potatoes and asparagus

3) It’s food-friendly.

Clearly Chardonnay has pretty much got your whole meal covered: sparkling wine with the appetizers, dry white wine with your main course and a Late Harvest wine with dessert!

OK, perhaps that’s a bit over-simplistic, but this is a very food-friendly wine which will pair with quite a range of different dishes. Here are a couple of food pairing suggestions:

  • A dry, unoaked Chardonnay is a lovely appetizer or will pair well with seafood or salad with a citrus sauce.
  • A more creamy and full-bodied Chardonnay will go perfectly with fish in a creamy sauce, a chicken dish or vegetables au gratin.
How about trying an oaked Chardonnay with your fish and chips?
How about trying an oaked Chardonnay with your fish and chips?

4) A cosmopolitan variety.

This is one of the world’s favourite grapes, with at least a few vines planted in virtually every country with a wine industry. Viticulturists love it as it is a relatively unfussy variety to grow. Winemakers adore it because it will respond well to pretty much any technique that takes their fancy. And millions of wine drinkers around the world are happy to sip a glass of Chardonnay in one or another of its many guises. So could you be missing out on a delicious drink?

5) Variety is the spice of life.

Why content yourself with always drinking the same type or style of wine when there are so many different grapes and styles to choose from? How about treating yourself to something different next time you’re buying wine?

A group of us here in Chile recently got together to taste a range of Chardonnays from Chile and other countries. Click here to see our findings.

If you’d like some further inspiration, check out these posts:

Tour review: Casas del Bosque

Casas del Bosque wine tasting

Casablanca winery visits: Quintay

Casablanca winery visits: Kingston

And if you liked the look of the grilled salmon and chilote potatoes dish, check out the recipe here.

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