Anything But Chardonnay
Everyone knows about chardonnay, right? I think the knowledge of chardonnay as a grape varietal/style of wine is probably about as ubiquitous as cheddar cheese at this point in human history. It’s a grape some of us love, and some of us hate – perhaps because it is so overdone? The vocal “haters” started the A.B.C. movement: Anything But Chardonnay. But is that the grapes fault?
Chardonnay has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years and it’s not going anywhere, so let’s take a deeper look at this infamous mascot of the wine world.
Speculated to have originated (though not proven 100%) in Israel, Chardonnay has been cultivated in Burgundy almost as long as they’ve been making wine there. That’s over 800 years. It was in the early 1900s that it was brought to US soil. It’s a fairly neutral and hardy grape – hardy in the sense that it can be grown almost anywhere without major issues. This is why it’s on the top 5 list of grapes planted by volume worldwide. Without much manipulation, chardonnay makes a very crisp, bright wine that is fairly straightforward.
French chardonnay tends to be on the lean-er side with linear acidity and lemon-lime citrus driven characteristics. It’s important to mention the French expression because it is the most benchmark of any expression worldwide that is quite historically iconic. On the other hand, chardonnay grown on American soil tends to be a bit more tropical with melon and sometimes even pineapple aromatics. And here in the States we tend to boost the wines made from chardonnay with tons of oak and full Malo (stands for malo-lactic fermentation). That means the bright malic acid gets converted into creamier, round lactic acid. And there’s a fun compound called diacetyl that comes from the oak that give the wine a buttery profile. Did somebody say bunco night?
No one really knows why chardonnay turned out to be such a rich, voluptuous wine here in California, but nonetheless that doesn’t mean that all chardonnays are created equal. That message is for you, chardonnay hater! There are plenty of other astounding wines made from chardonnay that are truly classy, all oak and butter aside. Try Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, Tor’s Carneros Chardonnay, or even Liquid Farm’s Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay for a more Chablis-like expression.
At the end of the day, I adjure you to give chardonnay another shot. If you’re still feeling like you’d like to give chardonnay another chance, stop by the shop and ask us for a recommendation that might help you change your mind. We’d love to help you recover from your A.B.C. tendencies.