10 pointers for Chardonnay

When faced with a flight of wines from the same variety it’s good to have some pointers that justify taking you to that grape. When identified in a blind tasting, Chardonnay can be a particularly tricky variety to justify. It has a modest varietal finger print, comes in a wide range of styles, and can have the whole spectrum of possible winemaking influences thrown at it. This is by no means an exhaustive list — 10 is just a nice number.

  1. Subdued primary fruit aromatics
    typically classified as a non-aromatic variety. Some clones are more aromatic, such as the musque clone (used by Kendall-Jackson to give aromatic lift)
  2. Broad range of styles
    from light bodied, lean and unoaked to full bodied, rich and highly oaked. Not to mention sparkling wines and sweet wines
  3. Broad flavour spectrum
    from citrus and green apple to stonefruit and tropical fruit
  4. Fruit aromatics rather than floral
    typically Chardonnay is low in terpenes, the compound responsible for many floral aromas in wine
  5. Affinity for oak
    toasty, vanilla, and spicy notes
  6. Affinity for MLF 
    buttery, diacetyl notes, soft integrated acid
  7. Affinity for lees stirring 
    can give creamy texture and toastiness
  8. Ability to express terroir 
    high levels of minerality, distinctive and expressive wines
  9. Density and weight 
    even the lightest, unoaked Chardonnays have a weight and density to them that you don’t see in other light bodied wines, such a delicate Mosel Riesling or breezy Piquepol de Pinet
  10. Buttery smoothness
    most Chardonnays show a certain buttery smoothness and don’t have the phenolic texture common in things like Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer

For more about Chardonnay, check out the Chardonnay post

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