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Chardonnay. Originated in Burgundy, no one knows exact origin. There is a village in the Macon named Chardonnay, but it was probably named after the grape. Chardonnay is also known by the names Aubaine , Beaunois , Melon Blanc , and historically, Pinot Chardonnay .

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  • Originated in Burgundy, no one knows exact origin. There is a village in the Macon named Chardonnay, but it was probably named after the grape.
    • Chardonnay is also known by the names Aubaine, Beaunois, Melon Blanc, and historically, Pinot Chardonnay.
    • Did not take over Burgundy as large scale production until mid-19th century
  • Adaptable in climate, soil, and methods of winemaking
    • Can make good wine in cool or warm climate; prefers cool
  • Easy to Cultivate, can produce high yields without loosing quality
  • The MAC of grapes: Less susceptible to viruses and funguses
  • Can be manipulated by the winemaker to produce different styles
  • Characteristics: E.F.G. = EXPANSIVE, FRUITY & GOLDEN
    • Flavors: Buttery, Creamy, Nutty, Smoky, & Steely
    • Fruits: Appley, Lemon, Melon & Pineapple
    • Texture: Lush, Full Bodied and Creamy
  • Oak
    • When aged in oak it adds rich note, creamier, longer finish & more complexity
    • Too much oak can be diffused, flabby and over the top chardonnay
    • Oak should be used to season the wine, not mask the flavor
  • Champagne
    • Brut Champagne can be made with Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, And Pinot Noir
    • Blanc de blanc = 100% Chardonnay
      • Tend to be light, and lively wines. Great for aperitif
  • Chablis
    • Very cold area: 2 ways of fighting cold,
      • 1. spray wines with Water to create an igloo effect
      • 2. heat vines with oil heaters.
    • Stone Basin From the Jura to Kimmeridge, England: Chalky, clay, oyster fossils soil…kimmeridge limestone.
    • Many methods of aging; use “feullate” (small barrels), barriques and Stainless steel.
    • Characteristics: Green-yellow sparkle, flinty nose, acidity and body, minerality
    • Shellfish wine, a must with oysters, especially steel barrel fermented
  • Cote de Nuits
    • Known for reds: PINOT NOIR
Cote de Buene
    • Reign of chardonnay
    • ECO-WINES: Domaine Leflaive led the pack on producing biodynamic wines
      • It’s all about the soil: TERRIOR
      • Other regions are producing young ready to drink wines, Burgundy produces wines to show the Terrior
      • If we don’t take care of the soil then there won’t be any TERRIOR
    • 2 GRAND CRUS Corton & Montarchet
      • Corton-Charlemagne in the Northern Buene
        • Chalky soils with subsoil of volcanic origins
        • Concentrated, mineral whites with rigid structure
      • Montrachet (bare mountain) in the south
        • Meager soil, limestone and ideal microclimates
        • Flooded with light and allows Chardonnay to mature fully and evenly
    • Puligny Montrachet: Mineral, elegant wines, w/ nerve and style
    • Chassange-Montrachet: Broader than Puligny
    • Mersault: Rich and smooth, pear quality, w/ strong wood
    • St. Aubin: Fruity, elegant and nervy
  • Maconnaise – Pouilly-Fuisse
    • Has more sun the rest of burgundy
    • Limestone rock formations “Solutre”
    • Starting to make wines of high quality however there are still a lot of ofoverprice3d bad wines.
    • Have that limestone minerality, hints of honey, crisp fruits
Chardonnay in California

1st brought to Cali by J.H. Drummond in 1880

When it arrived in Livermore Wente took chardonnay to the next level. In 1938 it was the 1st “pinot chardonnay” to receive acclaim.

1953 D Zellerbach planted Chardonnay in Hanzell Vineyards and fermented in small barrique barrels. He showed that a Burgundian style could be made in California. He inspired many winemakers to take on that style

In 1976 Mike Grgich with Chateau Montelena won the Paris tasting and surged it’s popularity

Chardonnay became the FAD, 1990 there was a total of 170,000 tons and in 1997 500,ooo tons were produced

The best Chardonnays are made of clones from cooler climates

There are about 1,000 producers of chardonnay the majority are clumsy, buttered toast and high alcohol

ACIDS & Fermentation

Acid is measured by pH levels. Distilled water is a pH 7. Anything lower indicates acid. California wine runs at about pH 3.0-3.5.

Addition of tartaric acid raises the pH levels

Problem in early California history was the formation of acetic acid which would make wine taste like vinegar. This was solved by adding sulfur dioxide.

There is a tendency for wine to take on a second fermentation where Malic acid turns into lactic acids. In the early days the process was not understood too well and many wines spoiled in the bottles.

Malo-lactic Fermentation: the addition of yeast to turn malic (tart) acids into lactic (soft) acids. Most popular in red wines to lower acid levels. In California became a trend to do with Chardonnay where it lowered the inherent fruit flavors of Chardonnay and create a more buttery and softer texture.


Cabernet Country but still make stellar Chardonnays

Some of the best Chardonnays: Chateau Montelena,Grgich Hills, Patz and Hall and Ramey

Characteristics: Appley, tropical, toasty vanilla tones, balanced acidity good depth


Some of the best Chardonnays come from Carneros, Russian River and Alexander valley

Cooler climate region which allows the Chardonnay to show it’s acidity

Some of the top producers are: Kistler, Rochioli, Hanzel and Landmark

Characteristics of citrus, apples, pears, muscat & bright acidity

Central Coast

Most common appellations for Chardonnay are Monterey, chalone, and Santa Maria

Cool climate and Limestone soils give Burgundy a run for it’s money

Top Producers: Morgan, Chalone vineyards, Mt. Eden, Byron, Talbot & Mer Soliel

Characteristics: Green apple, pears, citrus and toasty notes

new zealand australia
New Zealand & Australia
  • New Zealand
    • Chardonnay was introduced into New Zealand in the 1830s although the variety disappeared due to phylloxera later that century. Chardonnay re-appeared in commercial quantities in the early 1970s
    • Styles vary from intensely flavored, refreshing unwooded whites to more complex and richer Burgundian styles from oak barrels
    • Cool and steady climate allows grapes to mature slowly and show off natural acidity
      • Auckland and Northland, New Zealand's warmest regions, tend to make rich, ripe and broad-flavored Chardonnay
      • Gisborne "Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand", are typically soft, lush and charming with ripe peach, melon and pineapple flavors.
      • Hawkes Bay, the second largest producer of Chardonnay, has a wide range of soil structures and meso-climates that tend to make a very concentrated wine with peach and grapefruit flavors.
      • Wellington region also has good concentration with a mix of citrus together with both orange and white-fleshed peach flavors.
      • Nelson regularly makes fine, elegant Chardonnay styles, the best of which exhibit rich hazelnut and citrus flavors.
      • Marlborough, the country's largest producer of Chardonnay, typically produces zesty wines with good acidity and strong white peach and grapefruit/citrus flavors.
      • Canterbury makes a variety of styles, many of which have an impressive concentration of grapefruit flavors and crisp acidity.
      • Central Otago produce fine examples of Chardonnay, many of which have an appealing flinty influence.
    • Top Producers: Cloudy Bay, Te Awa and Kumeu river
  • Australia
    • 1st Chardonnay was made in Hunters Valley by Tyrell in 1971 it was called “Vat 47 Pinot Chardonnay”
    • Became a fad in Australia a 500% increase in Chardonnay production between 1986-1996.
    • Grapes of Australia are grown un the coolest regions of a hot continent; whereas in Europe they are grown in the cooler regions of a colder continent
    • Warmer Climate makes full flavor of tropical fruit, rich and thick chardonnays
    • In later years they started blending chardonnays from cooler regions and fermenting in barrels which has led to more complex and elegant wines
      • Leeuwin Estates “Artist Series”, Wolf Blass Gold Label, and Lindeman’s bin 65 ( at an affordable price)
Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the Judgment of Paris (a pun referring to a mythical contest).

Hosted by English Wine merchant, Steven Spurrier, to show the superiority of French wine.

A jury of 9 French renounced wine tasters conducted a blind tasting.

1 United States - Chateau Montelena 1973

2 France - Meursault Charmes Roulot 1973

3 United States - Chalone Vineyard 1974

4 United States - Spring Mountain Vineyard 1973

6 United States - Freemark Abbey Winery 1972

5 France - Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin 1973

7 France - Batard-Montrachet Ramonet-Prudhon 1973

8 France - Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles Domaine Leflaive 1972

9 United States - Veedercrest Vineyards 1972

10United States - David Bruce Winery 1973

Contest was said to be rigged so that French would win, however results showed California ahead

It was a monumental event, which showed that the French were not the only ones capable of producing great wines

The Great Chardonnay Showdown, held in the spring of 1980, was organized by the wine columnist for the Chicago Tribune newspaper with help from three Chicago wine stores.

A total of 221 Chardonnays from around the world were selected for the blind wine competition.

The winning wine was the Grigch Hills Sonoma County Chardonnay 1977, which was the new winery's very first vintage. It was declared the best Chardonnay in the world.

blind tasting and rating
Blind Tasting and Rating
  • Color
    • Is the color bright, golden, does it look like a chardonnay. Make notes of alcohol level
  • Fruit Aromatics
    • Is the fruit up front bright, is it apply/pear/tropical. Or is it masked by other aromas
  • Secondary Aromatics
    • Is there a sense of minerals, oak, herbs or flowers. Make note of alcohol and oak notes
  • Taste fruit
    • Does the palate match the fruit from nose, is it enhanced with other fruits or is it lost
  • Texture
    • Does the wine have weight, is it creamy, or lush, is it full body?
  • Oak integration
    • If there is oak, does it enhance the wine or does it dominate the wine, was the oak in the nose? Did it carry through into mouth? Is it noticeable, overwhelming or well integrated
  • Acidity
    • Is the acidity in balance with the fruit, or is overwhelming; is it clean and mouthwatering or tart and vinegar-like
  • Alcohol
    • Is the alcohol sensed in the nose? Is it apparent in the mouth? If so does it leave the tongue with overwhelming heat or is it cooling and refreshing well integrated with the wine
  • Finish
    • Does the wine fill your palate and linger or does it die off rapidly
  • Roundness (UNAMI)
    • What is the overall feeling of the wine, does it burst in the mouth, is it pleasing is it well balanced
our chardonnays by appellation

Argyle Williamatte Valley '04


Chateau Ste. Michelle "Indian Wells" Columbia Valley WA '05


Gold South Australia '06

Wolf Blass"Gold Label" Adelaide Hills, AU '04

New Zealand

Cloudy Bay Marlborough New Zealand '05


Chablis Domaine Louis Moreau Burgundy '04

Chassange-Montrachet Ramanet Burgundy '03

Mersault-Blagny Louis Latour Burgundy '02/'03

Pouilly-Fuisse Louis Latour Burgundy '04

Puligny-Montrachet Louis Latour "Folatiers 1er cru" Burgundy '03

Central Coast

Bernardus Monterey '04

Carpe Diem "Firepeak" Edna Valley '04

Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard Monterey '05

Fallbrook "Sleepy Hollow" Monterey '03

Mer Soliel Monterey '04

Morgan "Highland" Monterey '05

Sanford Santa Rita Hills '03

Summerland Santa Barbara '05

Taz Santa Barbara '05

Villa Mt Eden "Grand Reserve" Santa Maria '05


Acacia Carneros '05

Beringer Private Reserve Napa '04

David Arthur Reserve Napa '99

Far Niente Napa '03/04

Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage Napa '04

Grgich Hills Napa '03

Groth Vineyards Napa '05

Jarvis Unfiltered Napa '04

Newton Unfiltered Napa '04

Patz and Hall "Hyde Vineyard" Carneros/Napa '04

Ramey "Hyde Vineyard" Carneros/Napa '04

Stags' Leap Napa '05

ZD California '05


Bannister Rochioli-Allen Russian River '03

Belvedere Russian River '04

Chalk Hill Estate Sonoma ’03

Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley '05

Chateau St Jean "Robert Young" Alexander Valley '04

Clos Du Bois Reserve Russian River '04

Domaine Chandon Carneros '04

Dunah "Tre Cuvee" Sonoma Coast '03

Ferrari Carano Alexander Valley '04

Jordan Sonoma '04

Kistler "les Noisetiers" Russian River '04

Rochiloli Russian River '05

Rodney Strong "Chalk Hill" Sonoma '04

Simi Reserve Russian River '03

Stulhmuler Alexander Valley '04

Our Chardonnays by Appellation