Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy and can produce an impressive range of styles and flavours, from light and steely, oaked and buttery, austere and minerally to tropical and fruity!
This wine can accommodate almost any palate and can be paired with just as many food combinations as its own styles! Chardonnay can certainly leave a lasting impression with its extraordinary versatility.. The minerally Chablis, the tropical fruit aromas of California and Hunter Valley, the nuttiness of Mersault, lets not forget the elegance of Blanc de Blanc champagne!
Chardonnay adapts very well to most regions particularly Australia, California, northern Italy, New Zealand and Chile, each bringing their own unique styles and broad range of food pairings.
Chablis: Steely, minerally, unoaked Chardonnay. A style that is unique to Chablis in Burgundy and found nowhere else. This unoaked chardonnay is the classic style of wine to pair with fish and shellfish. Younger Chablis pairs well with lighter flavours like oysters. More mature, grand cru or premier cru Chardonnays will do better with salmon, turbot and sole. These more weightier wines will also stand up to rich creamy sauced dishes too.
Maconnais & Chalonnaise: good examples from the Maconnais include Pouilly-Fuissé and St. Véran, these styles tend to be beautifully creamy with apple aromas. Those from Côte Chalonnaise are fuller in body with more of a nutty character. This style of Chardonnay can be matched well with creamy sauced pasta, fish and chicken dishes. Also well with Serrano, Parma and other lightly salted hams.
Côte de Beaune: This is the southern half of the famous Côte d’Or of Burgundy. The spiritual home of legendary names, such as Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Aloxe-Corton. Big full bodied, nutty, honeyed, buttery, sometimes smoky, richly complex. These are expensive special occasion wines and deserve the best dishes to pair with them.. Lobster with a rich sauce would fit the bill quite nicely.
Alto Adige & Friuli- Northern Italy: These Chardonnays tend to be quite delicate. Generally crisp and light wines with white floral and apple flavours. Ideal as aperitifs, also match well with most light flavoured dishes- risotto, salads, white fish with a squeeze of fresh lemon etc..
Chile: Vibrant green fruit and some oak. Lighter style than most other new world producing regions. Best drank young, these wines can handle some spice but nothing too hot. Light curry dishes could be ideal.
New Zealand: As N.Z. has a cooler climate, the Chardonnay wines from here denote more intense vivid fruit (not tropical), good acidity, toasty oak with balance and finesse similar to that of Burgundy. Match with favoursome fish, light Mediterranean dishes and even grilled meats.
California: A range of styles now found here, not just the big, oaked, tropical or buttery Chardonnays that California is usually associated with. Although these are still predominant. Best drank young. Match with stronger flavoured foods such as smoked fish, Mediterranean dishes, grilled/ BBQ veg and meats.
Australia: Home to some of the most tropical fruity Chardonnay. From the hotter regions of the Barossa and Hunter valleys, these wines should be drank young and can be matched with full flavoured foods. Cooler regions such as the Yarra Valley, Margaret River and Adelaide Hills produce more elegant wines, some unoaked matching very well with seafood.
Always remember to chill your whites just right. Too cold and you could miss some of the beautiful character in the wine. Not cold enough can make the wine dull and even unpleasant with seemingly high alcohol and acidity. Ideally whites should be served at 8-10 degrees Celsius.