Definition - What does Chardonnay mean?

Chardonnay is a white wine made from the Chardonnay wine grape. Its origins are from Burgundy in France, and today it is grown in many wine-growing countries of the world. The grape is considered a neutral grape, with most of its characteristics coming from its terroir and the elaboration of the grape during the wine-making process.

Chardonnay wine from cooler regions, such as Burgundy, will have medium-bodied characteristics with light orchard fruit such as fresh pear, green apple, citrus and certain minerality depending on the soils where it grows. Chardonnay wine from warmer regions take on a fuller-body with tropical fruit notes, spices, peach, baked apple and melon.

WineFrog explains Chardonnay

Traditionally, Chardonnay is considered a cool-climate grape. As it was first produced in Burgundy, France where the weather is cooler; Chardonnay has the ability to maintain significant acidity levels and light fruit notes. Thus, it is able to showcase mineral aspects in the wine from its terroir. Chablis is one of the most recognized wines of Chardonnay from the Old World. However, Chardonnay wine is also produced for Champagne, and is grown in other regions of France.

When Chardonnay is grown in warmer regions of the world, the wine differs in character. It is full-bodied with higher alcohol compared to the wine from the Old World, and it showcases fuller and more mature fruit rather than terroir.

Cool-climate Chardonnay can be found in France, New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania(Australia), Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, Sonoma (California), Oregon, Washington, New York and Canada.

Warmer-climate Chardonnay can be found in Hunter Valley (Australia), Napa and Southern California, South Africa, Argentina and Uruguay.

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