Many white wines are refreshing but they don’t keep inviting me back for another taste like a great chardonnay.
Rob Geddes in his book ‘A Good Nose and Great Legs’ paints an interesting image of chardonnay: “If you could see wine in terms of a country landscape, what would you see? If it was riesling, you’d see crisp mountains; if it was shiraz, hot hills rolling away in the distance; if it was chardonnay it would be a vast, treeless, featureless plain, skyscrapers and towns always in the distance, because this wine depends so much on what is done to it and who is doing the doing. You see, the fruit is quite subtle on its own, but brilliant in the right hands.”
Chardonnay has recently suffered a popularity crisis that can be attributed to the big full-bodied, buttery, over-oaked wines that were very stylish but very over done. (Although there is still a considerable following for this heavy style) Most people that dislike chardonnay are quite pleasantly surprised by an Orange cool climate chardonnay.
Chardonnay can be grown successfully almost anywhere grapes will grow, but the style of a heavy bodied hot climate chardonnay is quite different to an elegant cool climate chardonnay. Cool climate chardonnay has balance that is nearly impossible to achieve in hot climates due to the way the grape ripens. There are three aspects to ripening – sugar, acid and flavor. When grapes ripen in cool conditions the sugar, acid and flavor ripen simultaneously as opposed to hot conditions.
Oak works well with Chardonnay but is not an essential component. Even though I enjoy some un-wooded chardonnay I am not a fan of the grapefruit character that can appear in un-wooded chardonnay.
Many white wines are intended to be consumed young while still fresh and fruity. Chardonnay can look very appealing as a young wine in fact it is pure delight to taste chardonnay that is still on lees in barrel but it also ages amazingly well.
My Chardonnays have always received good reviews but it is particularly satisfying to get the recognition of the trophies because I love my chardonnay.