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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’m an international student who is studying hospitality in Sydney, and these days we are studying the very interesting topic of wine. I’ve been reading and researching for some days, but I still do not have a clear understanding on what is the difference between a Chardonnay from France and one from Australia.

—Dave, Sydney, Australia

The biggest difference is just that one is made from grapes grown in Australia and the other from grapes grown in France. Beyond that, you’d probably notice that the bottle of Australian Chardonnay will say “Chardonnay” on its label, but the one from France will typically just list the region of origin—say, Chablis—and then you’re supposed to know that white wines from Chablis are made from Chardonnay grapes.

If you’re asking how they might differ in taste, that’s opening a can of worms. Many factors can affect the way a wine tastes besides just where its grapes were grown—the vintage, harvest conditions, winemaking decisions and so forth. Generally, the accepted characterization is that wines from the New World (such as Australia) tend to be more ripe, fruit-forward and round than wines from the Old World (such as France), which might show more structure and non-fruit notes of flint, spice and earth, but there are plenty of exceptions.

—Dr. Vinny

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