Chardonnay in France
Chardonnay is an international white grape variety known and cultivated all over the world. Its success stems from its ability to be particularly adaptable and resistant to different climatic conditions. Its high productivity and fine organoleptic characteristics have allowed it to spread throughout the globe, establishing it as a 'citizen' of the world.
Its preferred region is undoubtedly Burgundy, in northern France. This is where the world's most prestigious white wines are produced, bearing the names of various towns that have become reference points for wine lovers: Chablis, Chassagne Montrachet, Pouilly Fuissè, Puligny Montrachet and Meursault.
The combination of Chablis and Chardonnay is inseparable and a true example of what high-quality wine should be like. The cool climate of this noble wine region, with its lush hills, rivers and streams, has allowed the grape variety to find its ideal habitat, a perfect mix of physical and morphological characteristics. The purity of its aroma and taste are unmistakable, as is its classic scent of flint. Chablis is delicate, fresh and elegant, as it is essentially vinified in steel, preserving all its primary qualities. In recent years, a small number of producers have been adapting Chablis to new trends and have decided to replace the steel tanks with barriques in order to produce a softer, more gentle and creamier wine.
In the other areas of Burgundy, it is almost always vinified and aged in oak barrels with a capacity of 228 litres, known as ''pièce''.
In addition to all the Burgundy crus, the Jura district also delivers excellent results and, thanks to oxygenation and the use of flor yeasts, can produce white wines with an oxidative style.
Together with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, it is also used in the production of the prestigious and luxurious Champagne.
The Italian Production
In Italy, it has spread to all the regions, producing a variety of expressions. Always mistaken for Pinot, it was not until 1978 that studies demonstrated its uniqueness. A few years later, the first Chardonnay DOCs were produced, the first of which was in South Tyrol. Here, the harsh climate allows the production of a nectar with lively fresh notes, fruity and delicate aromas, which, with ageing in barriques, acquire vanilla and smoky hints. Similarly, in Val d'Aosta and Trentino, the mountain climate provides a fresh, easy-to-drink wine.
In the Friuli region it is also used on its own or as a blend, sometimes macerated and more rarely barriqued, with a more complex and structured aromatic profile. In the Veneto region it mainly complements other grape varieties and is rarely produced on its own. The Langhe area in Piedmont, on the other hand, is a different matter, where the milder and less rigid climate gives rise to an ageing process that in most cases takes place in wooden barrels, with aromas of exotic fruit, as well as a citrus and floral flavour.
The Lombardy region, in addition to using it for the production of Franciacorta sparkling wine, uses it mainly for Curtefranca and also in the Oltrepò Pavese, with distinct youthful notes that can be appreciated for their simplicity. In the centre-south, Tuscany offers famous interpretations with richer aromas and softer taste, while in Sicily, often blended with Catarratto, it takes on more tropical hints with pleasant savoury hints, perfect when paired with fish dishes.
The Other Expressions in the World
Since the success of Chablis and other white wines from Burgundy, dry Chardonnay has spread throughout the world, particularly to Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, the United States and Israel. While in Australia and New Zealand it has a soft, creamy feel, in Israel it has more aromatic tones, and in South America it displays fresher notes. The use of wood is a particularly popular approach in the Americas.
Depending on the region and climate, there are typical differences that render each expression truly unique.
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