Today world's most popular white grape, Chardonnay express its varietal character in many forms: from the racy, steely, and nervy wines of Chablis, to the fuller-bodied, buttery rich wine made in the Napa Vally, California.
Chardonnay grapes could be described as a 'winemaker's dream' because it's easy to work with and produces an amazing range of flavours- lemon, pineapple, peach, apple, honey, butter, bread, hazelnut, vanillia, and biscuit. The butter and creamy texture often associated with Chardonnay grapes is a signifiant sign that malolactic fermentation, which softens the 'green', underripe characteristics, has occurred. Malolactic fermentation will be encouraged in cool-climate wines that may well have excess acidity but is usually avoided in warmer climates, where acidity tends to be low.
Chardonnay grapes reaches its greatest heights in Burgungy's Cote D'Or, where the best wines, such as Meursault or Montrachet, gain sublime richness and complexity from the all-important limestone soil.
This grape's rise to stardom has been dramatic, considering that in South Australia, no Chardonnay was planted until the early 1970s. There is a danger though, that the full-bodied, buttery, fruity Chardonnay with an oak flavour will become so popular that it may become difficult to convince consumers that a fresh, lively, oak-free version not only show the true characteristics of the grape variety, but is an alternative to the 'international style.'
The Chardonnay grapes is grown in Burgungy, Champagne and the south of France, Australia, New Zealand, California, South America and South Africa.
This is an aromatic grape, which ripens early and is mostly grown in cool-climate vineyards. Its range extends from featherweight tangy, dry white wines like Sauvignon de Touraine, to the ripe, almost tropical-like fruitiness obtained in California, where the less common addition of oak is often adopted and labelled 'Fume Blanc'. Sauvignon Blanc thrives on chalk or gravel soil.
The Riesling grape is seen by many as the most versatile variety of white grape in the world. It is without doubt a class act with a number of strengths, not least its ability to outperform Chardonnay in the longevity stakes.
Arguably one fo the most underrated verieties of grapes, Sémillon, Bordeaux's most widely planted white grape, makes delicious dry and sweet wines. With an almost honeyed texture, Sémillon is often partnered by Sauvignon Blanc to lift the acidity, although Australian winemakers also blend Sémillon Trebbiano.
An extremely versatile variety of grapes, Chenin Blanc is capable of making dry and crisp white wines that are great as an aperitif, through to medium, unctuous and sweet styles. Due to the keeen and vibrant acidity often found in Chenin Blanc grape, they make brilliant food wines and can stay in good shape for many years after the vitange.
This distinctive grape variety is known by its friends simply as Gewürtz but sometimes also as Traminer. It provides interese aromas, reminiscent of lychee, rose petals and spice.
Shopping for wine can be quite a challenge, as there is often an immense range to choose from. Sometimes a little planning will be in your favour. Just knowing the type or style of a wine you want will make your buying decision that much easier.