The Most Misunderstood and Often Vilified Grape: Chardonnay

Why is Chardonnay Still Misunderstood?  And well vilified wine grape variety?

I recently read a Tweet that said something to the affect: “I am not a classic Chardonnay drinker” I was intrigued….what does that mean?

Well Chardonnay is still mis-understood—or at least the myth of Chardonnay in a certain style is still perpetuated.  I actually don’t know what “classic Chardonnay” means – is it highly oaked?  Buttery?  Or does it mean stainless or neutral barrique?  I don’t think heavy oak or heavy malolactic fermentation as “classic.”

I prefer to stand away because I do think at least with North American Chardonnay drinkers are not worrying about too much oak or even MLF.  I think most high quality producers have pulled away from considerable oak or MLF for at least a half a generation.  Using a phrase like “classic” is confusing because what is the basis for “classic.”?  Also perhaps this person mean Chablis as classic?  Too hard to tell and yet Chardonnay is still vilified needlessly.

Then there are those who think of Chardonnay as only an inert wine grape variety.  Chardonnay is still the most widely planted of white wine grape varieties – 400,000 acres / 160,000 hectares.  Chardonnay is a work horse wine grape with a touch of elegance.  Chardonnay does matter in terms of a still or sparkling state.  There are no two Chardonnays that are exactly the same.  Chardonnay presents an opportunity to pair with a wide variety of foods.   Chardonnay adds weight and texture and is a necessary and needed wine grape variety in the library of all white wine grapes.  It is a needed white wine variety with no necessary classic interpretation–it would be a mistake to interpret California Chardonnay of a generation ago as classic–that experience will not land itself in terms of positive distinction but a blimp on the radar–once there and now gone.

I have grown so tired of ABC “Anything But Chardonnay” which induces an immediate ennui–so it not just tires me –it is a less commonly used phrase. If Chardonnay were suddenly not available I do think we would have a large hole in our wine canon.

****

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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About James Melendez

I have two blogs on this descriptor page--I use to be able to make separate. My fragrance blog is to express my thoughts on fragrance. A passion in addition to wine. I think it is a stellar component to the senses and that which I am in love with. I hope you like both blogs. My "wine" blog also incorporates those categories intimately involved - wine, food, travel and lifestyle. We all need food and water to survive but we need wine to nourish our soul. My favourite varietals are Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Syrah-Shiraz.. for my red wines. And I often circle back to these varieties and sometimes they are my home varieties. The journey of wine is an historical footnote also marked by viti-viniculture and artistry that makes this beverage a living one. I have worked professionally in the wine trade and have loved all aspects; marketing, history, science and art of wine. © 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.
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