Of the three white noble grapes, chardonnay is the one most frequently aged in oak, and described as round, full bodied, and lush. Although traditionally aged in oak barrels, many chardonnay’s have been increasingly introduced to the market without oak. These chardonnays are trying to emphasize the big fruit flavors that chardonnay can often have, including tropical fruits, apple, citrus, and more. Even these unoaked chardonnays can demonstrate the rich full-bodied nature of chardonnay, but may lack some of the creaminess that oaked chardonnay can evoke with vanilla, cream, caramel, and buttery notes.
Chardonnay is a wine about balance, it must retain a slightly crisp acidic core with bright fruit flavors while surrendering some of it’s nature to smooth vanilla, butter, and smoke flavors. Traditionally, the best chardonnays are therefore complex and layered, which judicious aging.
Style: Dry, frequently aged for at least some period in oak. Unoaked chardonnay is becoming more common.
Notable Growing Regions: Argentina, Australia, California, France: Burgundy / Champagne / Languedoc-Roussillon, Italy: Tre Venezie & Tuscany, Oregon, Virgina.