Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted white grape in the world.  It is quite hearty in the vineyard and can stand well in a variety of climatic conditions.  It is versatile in the winery, a real blank canvas as compared to some other varietals, granting the winemaker great flexibility in the transformation from grape to delectable vino.  The finished product ranges from heavy with notes of butter and pie to bright and crisp with high acidity and notes of citrus.  I have talked with a vast number of individuals who say that Chardonnay is their absolute preferred varietal.  To say that one loves Chardonnay, however, is all to simple.  I recently hosted a “Strictly Chardonnay” wine and tapas event and the differences between the four featured wines is an example of just how different one bottle of Chardonnay can be from another.  Please read on…

1. Yalumba “Y Series” Unwooded Chardonnay, 2009 from South Australia.  If I had this wine in a blind test I probably would have supposed that it was a Sauvignon Blanc.  “Unwooded” means just that – this wine was fermented in steel.  It has a fruit-forward nose with strong hints of citrus and green apple.  It is a gentle wave of crisp fruit on the palate; it is there and then it is gone.  We paired this with seared scallops drizzled in a white wine butter sauce.  The consensus says that it was more enjoyable with the food; a bit too plain on its own.

2. Novas Chardonnay, 2008 from Casablanca, Chile.  This is a biodynamic wine (must mention this for I am a champion for all it stands).  It holds an intense yellow straw color with a tinge of green.  The aroma is minerals with a bit of honey followed by tropical fruit.  This is a light and airy Chardonnay as compared to the masses, but heavier than the Yalumba.  It experienced a small amount of oak, hence the note of honey.  We paired this with a roasted shallot crostini and honey cream sauce.

3. Cakebread Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, 2007 from Napa Valley.  Charming.  Perfect on its own, perfect with a brie puff.  On the nose it is sweet fruit and vanilla.  On the palate it is toasty and peachy and full and structured.  It lightens and surprises on the finish with hints of ginger and mineral.  We paired this with a baked brie puff and sherry honey.

4. Vincent Dauvissat Chablis, 2004.  Ooo! This Chablis is fanTASTIC.  It holds a deep yellow color; orange-y compared to the first two wines.  On the nose it is first and foremost yeasty.  On the palate it is heavy silk.  Butter and pie but also earth.  Complex.  Lingering finish.  We paired this with apple brine pork skewers and BBQ sauce.  A++++

I recommend: to do this tasting series and tell me what you think!