Chardonnay is one of the world’s most popular white grape varieties, and is viewed by many experts as a symbol of the globalization of the wine industry. The Chardonnay grape is relatively easy to cultivate and readily adapts to new climate conditions. For many New World markets, then, Chardonnay traditionally becomes one of the first new grape varieties that enjoy success.
While Chardonnay is truly a global grape variety, its traditional home remains Burgundy, the legendary wine region of France. Chardonnay wines from California and Australia are also popular. Californian winemakers began experimenting with creating a Burgundian-style Chardonnay in the 1960s, and by the mid-1970s had created wines that were the equal of any from Burgundy. The famous Judgment of Paris in 1976 cemented the world-wide fame of California Chardonnay.
During the late 1980s, Chardonnay enjoyed a remarkable increase in worldwide fame. Over the next decade, it became one of the most popular wines of choice amongst young wine drinkers. However, by the mid-1990s, Chardonnay had lost much of its appeal, as symbolized by the “ABC” (Anything But Chardonnay”) movement.
Today, Chardonnay remains the most planted grape varietal in the world. Part of its appeal is that it is very easy to change the taste, flavor and aroma of wines produced from this grape based on factors such as terroir and oak barrel aging. In cool climates, for example, the flavor profiles tend to favor apple, plum and pear. In warmer climates, though, the emphasis is on citrus and tropical fruits.
In terms of food pairings, classic dishes to combine with Chardonnay include roast chicken, white meats such as turkey, fish and seafood.