Chardonnay is the wine that seems to be found everywhere and it may be just as popular as beer as a cold refreshing drink. One can find it in fine restaurants and it can be found in bowling alleys and anyplace in between. This varietal seems to be able to be grown almost every where in the world as well. The Old World, the New World and it is being grown in some of the newer areas as well, and it seems to have a substantial following, and it even has its detractors in the A.B.C crowd, which means “Anything But Chardonnay,” which I think is unfair. I also have to state that I am a little behind in my postings for May, because May 21 was designated as National Chardonnay Day.
Chardonnay has its home in France, and has flourished in the entire length of the Burgundy region. At the North end of Burgundy is Chablis, which unfortunately has had an image problem for years, because of all of the cheap white wines that used to have the word Chablis on the label, that have nothing to do with Chablis. Chardonnay has done so well in Chablis that there are Grand Crus and Premier Crus, and in fact the production of Premier Cru Chablis is almost equivalent to the output of basic Chablis. Then as one goes further South in Burgundy, one encounters, perhaps the greatest of all Chardonnay wines, the Cote de Beaune. There may be no wine that is as luscious as a Grand Cru from any of the villages of the Cote de Beaune. Even if you go further South in the Maconnais one still finds some great wines and they are even affordable, which makes them even that much better.
When the Chardonnay varietal found its way across the water to the New World, it exploded with the unlimited possibilities and the different terrains that it is grown in. It may have hit its stride on the West Coast, but it has found its way all over the North America and in South America as well. It works as well in the Australian influenced areas of the Pacific and has even been done in South Africa. It is everywhere and it has created an argument among its fans; should it be buttery or crisp? Though it may sound like a “cop out” from me, but I enjoy a great Chardonnay if it is really buttery from the oak barrels or if it is crisp. There is a time and place for both styles in my world.
As for my A.B.C. friends and crowd, I like to surprise them with a bottle of wine, say something from the South of Burgundy, like the Maconnais or the Chalonnais. Pour your friends that have given you the A.B.C. statement a glass of something like Rully and let them savor the freshness of the wine and its crispness. Let them tell you how much they enjoy it and then smile and tell them that they are enjoying a glass of Chardonnay and watch their reaction. It may be devious and slightly underhanded, but it will let them discover a wine that they like, even with them espousing that they do not like the varietal. I am that kind of guy.