International Chardonnay Day is here on the 21st of May, and this year we wanted to celebrate by highlighting some fun facts about this versatile grape as well as sharing some of our team's favourite chardonnays from around the world with you! Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely consumed grapes globally. The grape varietal is named ‘Chardonnay’ for the village where it originated, in Burgundy, France. It can have a wide range of flavours, from citrus and green apple to tropical fruit and honey depending on the climate where it is grown, the type of ageing and the winemaker's process. The grape's versatility means that it is able to adapt to many different climates, producing a variety of wine styles that can please just about any palate.
Can chardonnay be grown in the UK?
In the UK, chardonnay is no less popular and as the climate is changing, chardonnay lovers can now experience both still and sparkling wines from grapes grown on home soils. In the UK, we are now able to create a world class, traditional method, sparkling wine which is giving champagne a run for its money. Whilst we use other grapes to create our English sparkling wine, chardonnay is the predominant grape used in our Classic Reserve and we use 100% chardonnay in our Blanc de Blancs.
Here at Hattingley Valley, we have also created still wines using our chardonnay. Whilst still English wine can only be produced in exceptional years, when the climate is much warmer this may be a more permanent fixture in our English wine portfolio in years to come. Here at Hattingley Valley we are particularly proud of our Still White chardonnay, made from our 2020 vintage, (whilst 2020 was a dreadful year for humanity, it was a glorious summer for ripening grapes!) released in 2021 this was the first still white in our range of still wines.
Why do chardonnay wines vary in taste so much?
Palettes and preference for wine can vary greatly from one person to the next and we know that not everyone likes chardonnay; we often get a very divided approach to chardonnay on our wine tours! This may be in part due to overexposure. The boom in the popularity of chardonnay over the years has led to an oversaturated market where some people may have encountered poor quality chardonnays. The influence of oak is a polarising factor; chardonnay can be heavily influenced by oak and if done with a high quality approach; this can add flavours of vanilla, caramel, toast. Conversely, if the wine is not aged well and other methods of ageing the wine are used, it can have an adverse effect on the wine. However, in the world of wine there is no right or wrong and it is very much a personal preference. If you enjoy the flavours and characteristics of oaked chardonnay, why not try our Hattingley Valley Reserve Still White 2020, aged in barrel for 6 months; for a touch of oak with perfect creaminess.
What Chardonnay wines would we recommend?
Apart from our own(!), this chardonnay day we encourage you to try one of the many diverse styles the grape has to offer. Luckily, the team here at Hattingley aren't completely bias and have a range of favourites from around the world, with varying price points and styles. There are many different regions to try!
So, without further ado, here are some of the Hattingley Valley staff’s top chardonnays:
- Chris’s pick: Xanadu, Reserve Chardonnay - Margaret River, Australia
“If I had to pick a favourite, other than our own here at Hattingley, I would choose the Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay from my old stomping ground in Margaret River. A medium bodied chardonnay with zesty citrus and rich stone fruits, it is a fine example from the region.”
2. Leon’s pick: Olivier Leflaive, Puligny Montrachet - Burgundy, France
“My pick is the Olivier Leflaive, Puligny Montrachet from Côte de Beaune, France. This area of Burgundy produces some of the finest Chardonnays in the world with incomparable intensity and complexity. The 2014 vintage is perhaps my favourite.”
3. Cláudia’s pick: The Valravn Chardonnay - California, USA
“The Valravn Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California is my favourite. Its tropical and stone fruit flavours make it the perfect summer wine!”
“My favourite has got to be the De Bortoli single vineyard, section A5 chardonnay. It is perfectly oaked, with fresh acidity and flavours of toast, lemon and pink grapefruit.”
“Kumeu River in New Zealand has an awesome range of chardonnay’s. There was a well documented blind tasting in 2018 with wine critic Jancis Robbinson (read the article here), that compared them with some of the with some of the most famous estates in Burgundy. The Kumeu River showed as well, if not better.”
There you have it, our staff’s top picks for chardonnay wines from around the world. Of course, if you’d like to try some delicious Chardonnay from a little closer to home, you could always try our 100% Chardonnay Still White. Or if you prefer yours bubbly, our multi award winning English sparkling, Blanc de Blanc.