If you like white wine, chances are that Chardonnay is on your list of favourite wines, because it is an easy wine that is suited to many different types of food pairings. It is also one of the world’s most important wine producing grapes with more than 30 different varieties of the Chardonnay producing grape available to wine makers.
Origins of Chardonnay
Many Chardonnay lovers also like Pinot Noir, which is no surprise because DNA analyses have shown that Chardonnay actually originated from a cross between the Pinot family and a little known grape called Gouais Blanc.
Wine historians assume that the Gouais Blanc grape was brought from Croatia to France where the cross pollination occurred, either by design or accident. The result was the Chardonnay grape, which was apparently named after a local French town in the wine district.
The earliest mention of Chardonnay was by French monks in the 1300s who are believed to have cultivated the vines and produced Chardonnay themselves, most probably as a way to support themselves and the local community.
Why is Chardonnay so popular?
One reason that Chardonnay is so popular is because of its health, reliability and consistency over the centuries. Chardonnay grapes grow best in soil that is high in limestone, chalk and clay and are frequently grown in the US, Australia, NZ, Italy, France and South Africa.
Regardless of where they are grown, Chardonnay is a vigorous vine, producing medium sized bunches of tightly packed golden yellow grapes. They are however, sensitive to changes in the soil types and whilst these changes do not affect the vigour of the vine, they are reflected in the taste of the wine.
One of the notable differences in the taste of Chardonnay is that when the grapes are grown in cold climates the wine tends to have a fruity flavour, whilst in warmer climates it has a sweeter, more honey taste.
So you will find that wine connessiours can easily identify the origins of a Chardonnay wine, simply by its taste, as each variation will have a distinct taste depending on where it was grown.
New Zealand Chardonnay wines
Given the climate of New Zealand, it is no surprise that their Chardonnay wines have a crisp acidity balanced by a fruity taste, which is both elegant and robust. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on both the North and South Islands, and mainly along the east coast.
With such a great diversity in climate and soils between the two islands, you can imagine that there is an equal variety in the taste of wines from the different regions. For example, due to the North Island having warmer and more humid summers than the South Island, in the north the grapes are harvested in late February and in the south, during mid-April. This gives the North Island Chardonnays a lighter, crisper taste than those from the South Island, which are more robust and full bodied.
New Zealand’s Chardonnay wines are a perfect match for seafood, poultry, rabbit, cheeses and delicious creamy white garlic sauces. They also go really well with desserts, which are focused on fruit, such as poached pears.
So, next time you want a taste of New Zealand, first select the best chardonnay from Advintage, then light up the Barby, throw on some prawns, crack open some mussels, make a crisp tomato and cheese salad and enjoy all that New Zealand has to offer.