All about Chardonnay for International Chardonnay Day
In anticipation of one of our favourite days of the year – Chardonnay Day – we have put together some information about all things Chardonnay.
Make sure to read up (and stock up!) on Chardonnay before the big day so you don’t end up with an empty glass on the 26th of May.
Where does Chardonnay come from?
Chardonnay is believed to have originated from a small town in the Mâcon region of Burgundy, France called ‘Chardonnay’ and the first records of production are from all the way back to the 1500s.
Chardonnay in Australia
Today, Chardonnay is the fifth most planted wine varietal in the world and Australia is the third-largest producer, home to around 10% of the world’s plantings with 22,000 hectares of vines. However this wasn’t always the case - the variety has had a tumultuous history since its introduction to Australia in the 1830s.
The varietal remained relatively unpopular until the 1970s when the bold, buttery style of Chardonnay became a firm favourite. After the frenzied ‘ABC’ (Anything But Chardonnay) movement in the 1990s, winemakers moved towards a more crisp and fruity style of wine and these days there is an incredible array of Chardonnay styles to choose from.
Chardonnay is now Australia’s most planted white varietal, accounting for over half of the country’s white wine production.
Common Chardonnay wine styles
Quite simply, a typical Aussie Chardonnay does not exist!
Chardonnay is one of the most adaptable wine varietals, producing incredible wines in both cool and warm climate wine regions across Australia and the world. It can also be heavily influenced by winemaking techniques, such as oak, lees ageing and malolactic fermentation.
Cool climate Chardonnay tends to be more subtle, showing higher acidity and a lighter body, whereas warm climate styles are bold and rich, with ripe fruit and a full body.
The use of oak barrels (225 L) or puncheons (500 L) for fermentation and maturation is common for a lot of Chardonnay, adding complex texture, as well as nutty and toasty aromas and flavours to the finished wine. Larger format puncheons will have a more subtle impact than barrels.
Neutral stainless-steel vessels are used to produce a fresher, more fruit-driven style of Chardonnay.
Malolactic fermentation is a process that transforms tart malic acid, into a creamier expression of lactic acid. Wines that have gone through partial or full malolactic fermentation will have a rounder and smoother mouthfeel and exhibit buttery and creamy aromas and flavours.
Lees ageing is also a common Chardonnay winemaking practice. Lees are the light and fluffy grape solids that remain after the fruit is pressed and they impart texture to the wine. Post-fermentation maturation on lees will also include yeast from fermentation which can impart a bread-like or brioche note to the wine.
Common primary aromas and flavours
For cool-climate Chardonnay:
- Green apples
For warm-climate Chardonnay:
12-14˚C is the ideal serving temperature.
Too cold and the aromas and flavours will be muted, too warm and the wine can lose its freshness and vibrancy.
Fresh, un-oaked styles of Chardonnay pair beautifully with seafood. Try salt and pepper squid or butterflied BBQ king prawns with garlic aioli.
Rich and oaked aged wines can hold up to richer foods and can even be paired with red meat. For a food match made in heaven, visit the Millbrook Restaurant and order the Kohlrabi slaw, pork, rainbow chard and ranch dressing.
How to celebrate Chardonnay Day
Organise a fun and interactive experience by purchasing our carefully curated pack of some of our most highly acclaimed Chardonnay from around Australia here.
Put together an educational blind tasting with friends or family and discover the different expressions of Chardonnay from Margaret River and the Perth Hills in Western Australia; the Pyrenees in Victoria; and Tasmania.
Explore a range of our award-winning Chardonnay below.
“Hand-picked fruit from the Tasman Peninsula, Coal River and Tamar Valleys. Fermented on full solids and matured 10 months in 35% new French oak hogsheads. Launching Tasmania's most exciting new premium label, the Fogarty Group sure has hit the ground running. This is pitch-perfect chardonnay that embraces the generosity of a warm season and frames it intricately in crystalline acidity, top-class oak and just the right whiff of struck-flint reduction. Masterfully assembled and a joy to taste for the first time.”
96 points, Halliday Wine Companion 2022
“Scintillatingly complex and intense with a wealth of ripe and mouthwatering lemon, grapefruit, peach and green mangos. Some clotted cream, flint and toasty oak, too. The palate has intense ripe citrus and stone fruit flavours in glossy, creamy texture bolstered by fresh acidity.”
98 points, Gourmet Traveller Wine 2022
“Such poise and refinement captured so beautifully. This is a marvellous example of the region and the vintage. It predictably has won heaps of bling, and so it should. Minerally, savoury and lean, yet with the power of the 2018 vintage powering through. The palate is extraordinary as it accelerates through to a long, finely crafted finish. This is a modern chardonnay at its best.”
98 points, Ray Jordan Wine Guide 2021
“Hand-picked from the 52 Stones Vineyard in the Ferguson Valley, chilled, whole-bunch pressed, wild-fermented, 100% mlf, matured in French oak (70% new). Very intense and long, the mlf certainly needed to soften the acidity to the level needed. A very classy wine with a lengthy future.”
95 points, Halliday Wine Companion 2020
“Estate-grown, hand-picked, whole-bunch-pressed, wild-fermented in French barriques (30% new), matured for 9 months. Bright, light straw-green; white peach, melon and pink grapefruit on the bouquet, moving to a grapefruit-driven palate with cool climate regalia. Delicious and fresh.”
95 points, Halliday Wine Companion 2020