Chardonnay Wine 101 – A Beginner’s Guide

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Episode #10 of Julien’s Wine School where Julien explains some fun and interesting facts your should really know about Chardonnay, the grape’s origin, history, wine styles and types and more…

Read more about Chardonnay aromas and flavor profiles on my blog Social Vignerons including a simple yet detailed infographic chart:

As a qualified winemaker, I made the research into the science and history of Chardonnay wine (enology) to find out the most important information you should know about white wines made from Chardonnay around the world.

Check out Episode #8 where I looked at the color of wines:

Also, see Julien’s Wine School Episode 1 where I discuss why it is important to observe the appearance (sight) of you vino before tasting:

Top facts about Chardonnay
1. A French Grape from Burgundy
The Chardonnay grape originates from France, and more precisely the Burgundy area.
It is in fact named after a village in Bourgogne that’s called Chardonnay the Romans called Cardonnacum (which translates into ‘the area of thistles’, Chardon being French for thistle too).

2. By order of the Queen
The historic legend in France goes that Chardonnay owes its popularity to the wife of Emperor Charlemagne who ordered that white wine grapes be planted in Burgundy because she was fed up with the red wine staining her husband’s beard while he was drinking!

3. An Aromatically-Neutral Grape:

Chardonnay is a relatively neutral grape variety flavor-wise or aroma-wise.
Because it is also adaptable to many environments and can be grown everywhere, Chardonnay is somewhat of a blank canvas for winemakers to paint in any style they choose, and many paint it with a lot of oak and full malolactic fermentation in new oak which infused a lot of buttery and vanilla character to it. Hence Chardonnay often being associated with a rather heavy, oaky style full of rich tropical flavors.
But unoaked Chardonnay is in fact crisp, floral and elegant. This style is what’s made the suggest of the crisp and refined Chablis style Burgundy in particular.

4. Chardonnay sparkles everywhere…
Chardonnay is the grape variety behind pretty much all the white wines in Burgundy, including the most famous examples being from Chablis, Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne Montrachet, or Corton-Charlemagne as a Grand Cru.
But Chardonnay is also a major component in the whites of Champagne which generally often also include 2 red grapes in the blend together with Chardonnay, while the Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are made form 100% Chardonnay (and I made a full video about what are Blanc de Blancs and how they taste if you want to learn more about that).
Chardonnay is also commonly used in many sparkling wines all around the world, in the sparklings from California like from the Carneros (such as Domaine Carneros, link here for wine reviews) or the Anderson valley (Roederer estate), but also the English sparklings, many Crémants in France, Franciacorta in Italy, or even cava in Spain.
Virtually, only Prosecco wines never use any Chardonnay as far as sparkling wines are concerned!

5. Are people really named Chardonnay?
Yes, Chardonnay is an actual given name.
In the United Kingdom, the name became fashionable due to the character Chardonnay Lane-Pascoe in the television series Footballers’ Wives that started broadcasting in 2002.
That year, in 2002, from virtually no one being named Chardonnay before, 65 baby girls were named Chardonnay in the UK.

Some interesting articles related to Chardonnay wines I found doing the research and used as a source of info for the video (the blank canvas for winemaker concept comes from Courtney Schiessl’s article on Forbes linked here:

See you soon again in the wonderful world of wine.


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