According to Dr. Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis, Chardonnay is the result of a natural cross between the famous red grape, Pinot Noir, and the infamous white grape, Gouais Blanc, which was actually banned in France. Many feel that Chardonnay originated in the Burgundy area of eastern France, where it is still a dominant varietal. It has long been found in the Champagne area of northeastern France. Chardonnay is the dominant white grape of the great still wines of Burgundy, in particular those of the Côte d’Or and Chablis. It is the only white grape allowed in Champagne. Chardonnay is a major white grape in Italy, South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and in the United States, in particular California and Oregon,.Pineau blanc image first published in Victor Rendu, Ampelographie francaise, comprenant la statistique, la description des meilleurs cepages, l'analyse chimique du sol et les procedes de culture et de vinification des principaux vignobles de la France. [2nd ed.]Paris: Masson, 1857.
Chardonnay adapts well to a wide range of locations, including warm irrigated regions such as Australia, and cool, rainy regions such as Champagne. Its bouquet and taste vary greatly in function of the climate and other natural growing conditions, and the winemaker’s art. Chardonnay usually spends time in oak barrels, both during fermentation and aging, often in the presence of expired yeast cells (sur lie). Warm-climate Chardonnays are fruity and rich and tend to age well. Cool-climate Chardonnays have a fresh, acidic taste with more delicate fruit flavors. The present trend is towards cool-climate Chardonnays. The Champagne region of France is one of the northernmost wine growing areas of the world. It is north of Paris and at the same longitude as Newfoundland, Canada, which produces little, if any, wine. Blanc de blancs Champagnes are made exclusively from Chardonnay. Most Champagnes blend Chardonnay with Pinot Noir and / or Pinot Meunier.
Chardonnay goes well with seafood such as Crab, Lobster, Oysters, and Shrimp and with fish including Red Snapper, Striped Bass, andTtuna. It is a fine partner to Crudités, Pasta, and Quiche. Of course it makes a difference whether the Chardonnay-based wine is exuding little bubbles or not. Enjoy Champagne with virtually any high-quality food, or on its own.
See I Love Italian Wine and Food - The Emilia-Romagna Region for a review of a white Italian wine combining the Trebbiano and Chardonnay grapes.
See My Own French Wine Articles for a clickable list of French Chardonnay wines.