What do you think of Chardonnay?
The acronym ‘ABC’ (Anything But Chardonnay) has been talked about in wine circles, ever since the over-oaked Aussie and US examples of the 1990s.
The thing about Chardonnay though, is that it’s impossible to generalise, as it comes in so many different guises.
In fact, anyone who has ever worked in a bar or restaurant will often joke about the punters that come in and protest to “HATE Chardonnay, but do love a good Chablis…” Not realising that they are one and the same.
So how does this expression of Chardonnay taste so different from all the others then?
The first secret lies in the ‘terroir’ (for a full explanation see here).
Chablis is a small, sleepy village about an hour south of Paris, and the vineyards surround it. Due to this northerly position, the climate for a wine growing region is very cool. This gives the wines of the region their refreshing edge, and crisp green apple and citrus flavours.
Then, take the unique soils too, which comprise of millions of tiny fossilised sea creatures. This again gives distinctive properties to the wines. Some even argue that the mineral/wet slate characteristics that are so common with Chablis, come from the earth itself.
Finally – and most influentially – is the winemaking approach.
Chablis is such a delicate style of wine, that the influence of oak would completely overpower and ruin it. Thus generally it is an unoaked in style. Perhaps this choice, is the real reason behind Chablis’ popularity.
Essentially, it is as far removed from a heavily oaked, tropical New World Chardonnay as you could possibly get.
So next time you might feel like Chardonnay-bashing, just remember that it can produce elegant, easy-drinking and world-renowned wines. Perhaps, wines that you might actually like!