Chardonnay is a type of still white wine. However, the Chardonnay grape variety is commonly used in the production of sparkling wines like Champagne, which is where the confusion comes from.
If you see a bottle of wine labelled as Chardonnay, it will nearly always be a still white wine. Learn all about Chardonnay the wine and Chardonnay the grape variety in this guide, which also explains how Chardonnay grapes are essential for sparkling wine production.
What Is the Chardonnay Grape?
Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines in the world. The Chardonnay grape is green-skinned and thrives in a multitude of climates. This, and the versatility in the wines this grape creates, makes it one of the most-used varieties.
Originally just grown in the Burgundy wine region of France, the Chardonnay grape has since expanded to be one of the most widely planted grapes. It’s often been confused with Pinot Blanc, as the vines and leans look almost identical. However, Chardonnay grapes ripen to a more golden colour.
What Does the Chardonnay Grape Taste Like?
Chardonnay grapes themselves are neutral in flavour, and are easily influenced by how they are used to produce the finishing wine. In contrast to other white wine grape varieties, like Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay’s aromas are also more muted. For example, if they are aged in oak barrels, this will have a noticeable effect on the taste of the finished wine with vanilla notes.
The grape’s flavour is also influenced by the climate in which it’s grown. Chardonnay wines made from grapes grown in cooler climates are more acidic in flavour and have a lighter body. Warmer climates lend more citrus notes and weightier bodies.
A Chardonnay wine can be buttery and full-bodied or elegant and fresh. Typically, you can expect a Chardonnay wine to be towards the drier end of the spectrum, which means it isn’t a sweet wine. Our guide to tasting wine will help you identify the flavours and aromas you experience while drinking Chardonnay wines.
How Is Chardonnay Best Served?
As with other white wines, Chardonnay thrives when chilled. Flavours become muddles when the wine is too warm and muted when too cold. The ideal temperature is 10-12°C, which can be achieved by chilling the wine in the fridge for around 3 hours or in an ice bucket for around 30 minutes. Make sure you know how to properly store wine to ensure the longevity of your Chardonnay.
In terms of food pairings, it depends on the style of Chardonnay you have. Where possible, try to match the wine’s weight (which should be on its label) with the food weight. Light Chardonnays will suit apéritifs while medium-bodied styles can go well with fish and white meats as well as aged cheeses. Richer, full-bodied Chardonnays with higher alcohol content are ideal for foods that have a higher fat content, like grilled meats and heavy cream sauces.
Can You Get Sparkling Chardonnay Wine?
Chardonnay grapes are one of the most common white wine grape varieties used for sparkling wine production. They are one of the three primary grape varieties used in Champagne.
Generally, a sparkling wine will actually be a blend of grape varieties, with the most common being:
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Meunier
A white sparkling wine made from just one grape variety is called a “blanc de blancs”. In this way, you could consider a blanc de blanc sparkling wine made from just Chardonnay grapes a sparkling Chardonnay, but it won’t be labelled or referred to as such.
How Are Sparkling Chardonnay Wines Made?
Because of the Chardonnay grape’s origins in France, its use in sparkling wine is often associated with Champagne. Any white sparkling wine made in the traditional method will be near identical in taste and quality to Champagne, it just can’t legally bear the name if it’s not made in the Champagne region of France.
The traditional method involves a second fermentation in-bottle. Sugar, yeast, and nutrients for the yeast will be added to the grape juice blend. The deposits that the dead yeast cells produce (called “lees”) are what contribute to flavour and aroma development in the wine.
Our Award-Winning Chardonnay Wines
At Bolney Wine Estate, we are at the forefront of English wine production. We grow Chardonnay grapes on the sweeping vineyards of our Sussex estate, which go on to make a variety of award-winning sparkling and still wines.
We’re particularly proud of our Estate Chardonnay 2020. The cool UK climate of 2020 gave this blend delicious apple and citrus characteristics. Pleasingly textured, this crisp white has notes of apricot and orange peel and a finish of honey and creamy brioche. Or, for a sparkling Chardonnay, our Blanc de Blancs is an excellent choice. The smooth texture is complemented by elegant citrus and hazelnut aromas with a wonderfully creamy finish.
Whatever your taste in wine, red or white, still or sparkling, Bolney are sure to have the perfect choice for you. You can explore our full range with a number of buying options or check out our subscribe and save offer to ensure you always have a beautiful bottle to hand.View more Chardonnay wines