Wine Grape Varieties: Chardonnay

One of the world's most popular varieties, Chardonnay is now planted in a range of climatic grape growing regions all around the world.

During the mid 1980's, Chablis, the major Chardonnay region of France, experienced several bad vintages and it was at this time that Australian Chardonnay production was born. Australian consumers embraced Chardonnay, which soon became known for its generous ripe fruit flavour and affordability.

The Chardonnay grape is small and compact with round, green-yellow berries and is popular with growers and winemakers alike because it ripens early and is adaptable to various climatic conditions (cool to hot). This enables the winemaker to fully utilise their skills in producing vastly different tasting wine from the same grape variety.

The colour will range from straw to a deep yellow, depending upon the region, winemaking technique and age of the wine

Australian Chardonnay generally falls into three categories.

  • The first style is the rich warm climate Chardonnay, where the winemaker may use a number of techniques to produce a more opulent style, including skin contact, time on lees, malolactic fermentation and maturation in new oak. The result is a traditional Australian wine displaying a light golden colour when young with ripe fruit characters such as peach or tropical fruits accompanied by rich buttery, toasty flavours.
  • The second style is cool climate Chardonnay. These are generally lighter and have more finesse with aromas of grapefruit, melon and pineapple. While not as intense as in the warm climate Chardonnays, oak characters can still be detected.
  • The third style, unwooded or unoaked Chardonnay, has only emerged during the past few years. As the desire for oak in white wines has declined, this style has gained popularity. Unwooded Chardonnays are generally dry, fruit driven, medium bodied wines with good acidity.

Aromas (by nose) and flavours (by mouth)

Primary fruit characters include - tobacco, cucumber, grapefruit, apple, lime, rockmelon, pineapple, fruit salad, tropical fruit, gooseberry, melon and peach.

Developed fruit characters include - toasty, honey, figgy, nutty and cashews.

Characters derived from winemaking include:

Malolactic fermentation – creamy, buttery, butterscotch, yogurt and caramel.

Barrel fermentation/barrel storage – vanilla, toasty, sawdust, cedar, olives, spicy, bacon, coconut, pencil shavings, dusty, cashews, smoky, burnt, caramel, raisin and charred .

The Influence of Winemaking

The role of the winemaker is to balance the types and intensity of aromas and flavours from the fruit with characters that come from winemaking techniques, especially the influence of oak.

You will find Chardonnay wines that vary in style from medium-bodied through to full-bodied with a range of fruit flavours.

Learn more about the varieties of grapes that make great wine visit Wyndham Estate

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