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3 Chardonnay Taste Profiles You Will Love – The Ultimate Guide

Chardonnay
There are 3 main Chardonnay styles: Unoaked Chardonnay, Oaked Chardonnay, and Sparkling Blanc de Blancs made of 100% Chardonnay grapes. What’s your fav?

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world. Depending on the style it can be light, fresh, and crisp if unoaked or rich, buttery and full-bodied if oaked. It is very versatile and grows nearly everywhere with different taste variations. It gives its best in clay, limestone, and chalky soil.

Only the Blanc de Blancs produced in the Champagne region in France can be called Champagne. The others must be called sparkling wine.

Have you ever found yourself staring at many Chardonnay bottles wondering which one you would like best? Keep reading and you’ll find the answer and much more!

I’ve organized the content below in small sections to make it easy to read. I must confess I’m quite happy with the research and work done. As always wine tasting was my favorite part!😋

Use the table of content below to jump straight to the section. In this article you’ll learn more about: 

Keep reading to become a Chardonnay expert!

Unoaked Chardonnay

Unoaked Chardonnay Overview

Grape

Chardonnay

ABV

13.5%–14.5%

Main Regions

France: Loire Valley, Chablis
USA: California
Australia

Other Regions

USA: Oregon, New York, Washington
Chile

Grape

Chardonnay

ABV

13.5%–14.5%

Main Regions

France: Loire Valley, Chablis
USA: California
Australia

Other Regions

USA: Oregon, New York, Washington
Chile

Unoaked Chardonnay Taste Profile

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Unoaked Chardonnay.

Color

Pale Lemon

Nose

Honeysuckle
Lemon Zest
Peach
Green Fruit (less ripe)
Tropical Fruit (very ripe)

Palate

Chalk
Lemon Zest
Peach
Dry to Off-Dry
Medium-High Acidity
Medium-Full Body

Color

Pale Lemon

Nose

Honeysuckle
Lemon Zest
Peach
Green Fruit (less ripe)
Tropical Fruit (very ripe)

Palate

Chalk
Lemon Zest
Peach
Dry to Off-Dry
Medium-High Acidity
Medium-Full Body

Unoaked Chardonnay Food Pairing

These are some food pairing suggestions for Unoaked Chardonnay.

Appetitizer

Salad
Veggie Risotto
Paté

Meat

Chicken

Fish

Shellfish
Moules Frites
Sushi

Cheese

Fresh (Goat Cheese)

Appetitizer

Salad
Veggie Risotto
Paté

Meat

Chicken

Fish

Shellfish
Moules Frites
Sushi

Cheese

Fresh (Goat Cheese)

Serve and Store Unoaked Chardonnay

Decant

Nope

Glass

Chardonnay
Viognier

Serve at

45 - 50 °F
7 - 10 °C

Store for

2-3 years

Decant

Nope

Glass

Chardonnay
Viognier

Serve at

45 - 50 °F
7 - 10 °C

Store for

2-3 years

Useful Insight

The fermentation and aging in stainless steel give crispness and brightness to the wine. That is why unoaked Chardonnay is similar in taste to Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc but without herbaceous flavors.

When you read Chablis on the label, you’ll know it’s Chardonnay. Chablis is a French region within Burgundy. Chardonnay produced here is generally fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.

Oaked Chardonnay

Oaked Chardonnay Overview

Grape

Chardonnay

ABV

13.5%–14.5%

Main Regions

France: Burgundy
USA: California
Australia
New Zealand

Other Regions

Italy: Puglia
Argentina

Grape

Chardonnay

ABV

13.5%–14.5%

Main Regions

France: Burgundy
USA: California
Australia
New Zealand

Other Regions

Italy: Puglia
Argentina

Oaked Chardonnay Taste Profile

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Oaked Chardonnay.

Color

Deep Gold

Nose

Vanilla, Butter, Spice
Apple, Pear
Citrus Fruit (Cool Climate)
Tropical Fruit (Warm Climate)

Palate

Chalk
Saline
Dry to Off-Dry
Smooth, Creamy
Medium-Low Acidity
Medium-Full Body

Color

Deep Gold

Nose

Vanilla, Butter, Spice
Apple, Pear
Citrus Fruit (Cool Climate)
Tropical Fruit (Warm Climate)

Palate

Chalk
Saline
Dry to Off-Dry
Smooth, Creamy
Medium-Low Acidity
Medium-Full Body

Oaked Chardonnay Food Pairing

These are some food pairing suggestions for Oaked Chardonnay.

Appetitizer

Salad
Prosciutto Crudo
Pumpkin

Meat

Pork
Grilled Meats
Roast Chicken

Fish

Halibut
Grilled Fish
Smoked Salmon
Crab Cakes

Cheese

Cream (Brie) to Triple Cream (Brillat-Savarin)

Appetitizer

Salad
Prosciutto Crudo
Pumpkin

Meat

Pork
Grilled Meats
Roast Chicken

Fish

Halibut
Grilled Fish
Smoked Salmon
Crab Cakes

Cheese

Cream (Brie) to Triple Cream (Brillat-Savarin)

Serve and Store Oaked Chardonnay

Decant

Nope

Glass

Chardonnay
Viognier

Serve at

50 - 55 °F
10 - 13 °C

Store for

5-7 years

Decant

Nope

Glass

Chardonnay
Viognier

Serve at

50 - 55 °F
10 - 13 °C

Store for

5-7 years

Useful Insight

Oaked Chardonnay is quite different in taste from Unoaked Chardonnay. It generally is rich, rounded, creamy, full-body wine with tertiary flavors of Vanilla, butter, spice, caramel, and honey.

The tertiary flavors are from the oak aging and fermentation process. The rounded, creamy texture is from the malolactic formation and the contact with the lees, or dead yeast which reduces wine’s acidity.

Sparkling Blanc de Blancs

Here we’ll primarily focus on Blanc de Blancs which is made with 100% white grapes, and usually Chardonnay.

Sparkling Blanc de Blancs Overview

Grape

Chardonnay

ABV

10.5% - 12.5%

Main Regions

France: Champagne

Other Regions

USA: California
Italy

Grape

Chardonnay

ABV

10.5% - 12.5%

Main Regions

France: Champagne

Other Regions

USA: California
Italy

Sparkling Blanc de Blancs Taste Profile

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Sparkling Blanc de Blancs.

Color

Pale Lemon

Nose

Jasmine
Brioche, Toast
Apple
Lemon
Peach
Pineapple

Palate

Saline
Dry
High Acidity
Light Body

Color

Pale Lemon

Nose

Jasmine
Brioche, Toast
Apple
Lemon
Peach
Pineapple

Palate

Saline
Dry
High Acidity
Light Body

Sparkling Blanc de Blancs Food Pairing

These are some food pairing suggestions for Blanc de Blancs.

Appetitizer

Salad
Hors d’Oeuvres
Nuts

Meat

Chicken
Fried Chicken

Fish

Shellfish
Grilled Fish
Fish and Chips

Cheese

Cream (Brie)

Appetitizer

Salad
Hors d’Oeuvres
Nuts

Meat

Chicken
Fried Chicken

Fish

Shellfish
Grilled Fish
Fish and Chips

Cheese

Cream (Brie)

Serve and Store Sparkling Blanc de Blancs

Decant

Nope

Glass

Flûte

Serve at

43 - 50 °F
6 - 10 °C

Store for

10+ years

Decant

Nope

Glass

Flûte

Serve at

43 - 50 °F
6 - 10 °C

Store for

10+ years

Useful Insight

You’ll commonly find a sweetness level, called “dosage”, in the label that it’s needed to counterbalance the high acidity. The “dosage”, in sweetness order, can be: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Dry, and Doux. Brut is the most common.

Only the wine produced in the Champagne region in France can be called Champagne. The others, even if produced with the same method, must be called sparkling wine.

Malolactic fermentation is a usual process for wines made only with Chardonnay.

A little bit of Chardonnay history

Experts agree that the Chardonnay grape was born in France in the Burgundy region. Chardonnay is the result of a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais blanc [1] as per a recent study from the University of California, Davis [2].

Chardonnay gained increased popularity in California from the famous Chateau Montelena’s blind tasting in Paris in 1976. Check out the movie “Bottle Shock” [3]. Since 2000 Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape in California.

These days Chardonnay is the most widely planted white grape globally and the second most planted white grape in France, followed by Sauvignon Blanc.

What does Chardonnay mean?

Chardonnay” comes from the Latin world “Cardonnacum” or “wild thistle”. That’s the name the Roman gave to the area where the Chardonnay village was located. The belief is that Chardonnay wine was named after this village.

Where does Chardonnay grow best?

Chardonnay’s an extremely versatile grape that grows worldwide in different climates and soil. Chardonnay does best in clay, limestone, and chalky soil. The climate affects the tasting profile of the wine in the following ways:

  • Cool climate Chardonnay tends to be mineral with citrus flavor, high acidity, and medium body. Regional areas examples: France (Champagne, Burgundy), Northern Italy, US (Sonoma Coast), New Zealand.

     

  • Warm climate Chardonnay tends to have tropical and stone fruit ripe flavor, lower acidity, and full body. Like Sauvignon Blanc, if the over-ripening is not properly controlled it will considerably reduce aromas and acidity. Regional areas examples:  Southern Italy, South Australia, and South Africa.

When is the perfect time to drink Chardonnay?

Like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, a hot summer day is perfect to enjoy an Unoaked Chardonnay: it’s refreshing, light, and easy to drink.

Some curiosities about Chardonnay

  • There is an International Chardonnay day and it’s the Friday in May.

  • On top of Blanc de Blancs, Chardonnay grapes are also blended with other grapes for other Champagne styles. These grapes are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier [4]. Examples of sparkling wines that used Chardonnay grapes are Crémant [5] and Franciacorta [6].

  • The winemaking methods for Oaked Chardonnay have a great influence on its taste profile. For this reason, it is said to be “made in the winery”.

  • Due to their similarities in the grapevines, leaves, and clusters, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc were often mistaken for each other. This is the reason why even these days they have many identical synonyms.

  • Chardonnay’s most known synonyms are Pinot Blanc Chardonnay, Pinot Chardonnay, and Feiner Weisser Burgunder.

What’s Chardonnay's typical price range?

  • Chardonnay White Wine price range is on average between $10-$50. You’ll find  more expensive Chardonnay over $100. In case you have some spare cash, there is a rare example of over $10’000 a bottle, yes $10’000, such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru.

  • Blanc de Blancs varies in price:
    • Champagne is more expensive, you can get good quality at a price range of $30-$70.
    • Sparkling Wine is cheaper and generally in a price range of $20-$50.

What to do next?

Be sure to serve your Chardonnay at the right temperature. Read our wine tasting guide to enhance your tasting experience and taste like the pro! Alternatively, why don’t you check out our guides on Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc?

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