Chardonnay itself is a ‘neutral grape’, many of its flavours are derived from influences such as those of the terroir and oak. These many different styles of Chardonnay range from the lean, crisp mineral wines of Chablis to the richer and creamy aged oak wines with tropical fruit flavours from the New-World. A main component in Champagne and many other sparkling wines from around the world Chardonnay is the grape that keeps on giving and is one of the most widely grown grape varieties with 210,000 hectares under vine.
The linage of Chardonnay was a much-debated story, with suggestions that Chardonnay was not related to any other major grape variety, others saying because the leaves are near-identical in shape and structure to Pinot noir or Pinot blanc they must all be related. To vineyard owners in Lebanon and Syria claimed that the grape's ancestry could be traced to the Middle East and it was brought to Europe by returning crusaders. Others claimed it originated in Cyprus from an ancient indigenous vine. But it wasn’t until the recent DNA fingerprinting of the grape that lead to the final conclusion of its origin and linage which was that Chardonnay has the parents of the Pinot noir and Gouais blanc grapes. Chardonnay had an array of siblings which include varietals such as: Aligoté, Bachet noir, Beaunoir, Franc Noir de la-Haute-Saône, Gamay Blanc Gloriod, Gamay noir, Melon, and Dameron (have the same parents of Pinot noir and Gouais blanc)!
Chardon-yay fun facts!
- The most widely planted white grape varietal.
- Chardonnay is named after Chardonnay in the Mâcon region of Burgundy.
- By law if the label says ‘Chablis’ the contents must be Chardonnay.
- More Chardonnay is produced in Burgundy than Pinot noir.
- Chardonnay has a wide range of flavours depending on where the grapes are grown.
- On Champagne if it says “Blanc de blancs” on the label, you’re almost certainly drinking 100% Chardonnay.
- The baby name 'Chardonnay' rose in popularity in the UK around 2002 because of a character in “Footballer’s Wives.”