Chardonnay

Chardonnay
(Andrew and Carrie Purcell)

[shar-dun-NAY]

Characteristics

This white grape takes its name from a village in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy in France. It remains widely grown there today, but the variety became so popular in the 1970s that for a time it became nearly synonymous with "white wine" in the U.S. Today, almost every wine-producing region in the world grows Chardonnay.

This early-budding and early-ripening variety is relatively easy to grow, explaining its attractiveness to winemakers. The best soils for its vines are limestone, chalk and calcareous clay. The main appeal of Chardonnay lies in its versatility: Its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of where it's grown, and respond positively to a wide range of winemaking techniques have bolstered its popularity among growers and winemakers.

Cool-climate Chardonnays tend to have a leaner profile, with fresh citrus, orchard and stone fruit flavors like lemon, apple, pear and peach. These styles are mostly found in France—Burgundy, of course, but in other areas too, such as Champagne, where Chardonnay plays a major role in the bubbly's blend. Chardonnays from warmer climates show riper fruit; California is the best-known producer of New World Chardonnay, but Oregon and Australia also make high-quality versions. Winemakers across the globe can choose to employ malolactic fermentation, lees stirring or oak aging, which impart notes of butter, cream, toast and baking spices.

Where it's grown

 A map of the world with France, California, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina highlighted
France: Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune and Mâconnais, as well as Champagne and Jura; California: Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Monterey; Australia: Margaret River, Yarra Valley; New Zealand: Hawkes Bay, Kumeu (Map by Henry Eng)

Chardonnay icons

Suggested food pairings

For more on Sangiovese

Get scores and tasting notes for recently rated Chardonnays

Chardonnay fans may also like

Know Your Grapes White Wines Chardonnay Burgundy California France

You Might Also Like

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the reigning champion of the red wine world, and has captured the …

Jan 25, 2023
Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc

Made in dry, off-dry and sweet styles, Chenin Blanc's honeyed notes and minerality has …

Jan 25, 2023
Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer

Defined by its pungent perfume, Gewürztraminer is at its most noble in the bucolic wine …

Jan 25, 2023
Grenache

Grenache

Leading a pack of 13 grapes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache thrives at home but has found …

Jan 25, 2023
Malbec

Malbec

Born and raised in France, the plush Malbec grape reached modern stardom in Argentina.

Jan 25, 2023
Merlot

Merlot

Very popular and always has been, Merlot has roots in Bordeaux but has traveled the Earth.

Jan 25, 2023