Chardonnay - Marnie Old

By Jennifer Edwards,2014-11-21 23:19
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Chardonnay - Marnie Old


No other grape can match the popularity of

    Chardonnay. Its unparalleled track record for

    producing intense, full-bodied white wines has

    made it the vine of choice for white wine-

    making around the world. Chardonnay has

    proved adaptable to a wide range of

    vineyard soils and climates. Every country that

    produces wine grows this premium varietal.

    The Chardonnay grape can reach very high

    sugar content at harvest. When these sugars

    are fermented into alcohol, the result is

    voluptuous full-bodied wines. Chardonnay’s flavor profile runs from tangy

    crabapple and citrus flavors in cold climates, through plump pear and apple pie flavors in moderate climates to juicy apricot and pineapple flavors in the warmest regions. Chardonnay’s richness of texture and

    intensity of flavor are ideal for wines with a strong oak component. Where lighter grapes might be overwhelmed, the larger than life flavor of Chardonnay blossoms in the presence of oak’s distinctive vanilla and

    dessert spice aromas. Oaked Chardonnay has become so popular that few are made without the flavor of barrels.

    Chardonnay originated in France’s Burgundy district, where quality

    viticulture first developed in medieval times. Even today, all white wines from Burgundy are 100% Chardonnay, although few name the grape on the label. While these classy, understated French Chardonnays remain the benchmarks for the style, the New World is quickly popularizing their bolder versions of the grape. Compare the following wine styles side by side for a crash course in the world’s most popular grape, Chardonnay.

    ? Marnie Old and Old Wines LLC 2005


White Burgundy The Original French Chardonnay

    Most of the world’s Chardonnay is made in the image of barrel fermented white burgundy. Here, wines are named for their district, town or vineyard. The grape is not identified on the label. Centuries of tradition have perfected these wines, which include the most sought after Chardonnays on earth. The central districts of Burgundy, especially the Cote d’Or and the Maconnais, achieve the most ripeness and yield subtle, yet aromatically intense wines. These wines are medium to full bodied, crisp in acidity and very dry, with generous flavors of apples, pears and citrus zest. Only the finest wines are intense enough to support the use of new French oak barrels, which contribute accents of toasted nuts and exotic spices and enrich the wine’s texture. These quality wines are limited in production and command a premium. The most renowned villages, Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Pouilly-Fuissé, earn the highest prices.

    Pairing: White burgundy is a high wire balancing act between custardy richness and cleansing sharpness. A subtle interplay of fruit and wood aromas evokes apple and almond pastries baking. Try it with pan roasted lobster, pasta carbonara or wild mushroom soup.

Classic Chablis Unoaked French Chardonnay

    Chablis is the northernmost of Burgundy’s wine districts, and gives its name to the unique wines made there. Like all white wines from Burgundy, Chablis is made with 100% Chardonnay, but the grape is not named on the label. (French Chablis has nothing in common with generic American Chablis, which is simple bulk wine trying to capitalize on a famous name.) The cold climate in Chablis produces barely ripe Chardonnay grapes, resulting in lean, tart wines that are always bone dry with sharp acidity. Both of these characteristics cry out for food. Alone, Chablis can seem unflatteringly thin and sour. It is rarely seasoned with oak barrels, as their spicy flavor would overwhelm its subtle nature.

    Pairing: The quenching austerity of this Chablis can cut through the richness of butter sauces like a knife, yet be equally flattering next to a vinaigrette. Try it with raw oysters, sole in beurre blanc or a goat cheese salad.

? Marnie Old and Old Wines LLC 2005


California Chardonnay

    Most American Chardonnays are much bolder in style than the understated French originals, primarily due to the vast difference in climate. Vines thrive in the dry, sunny climate of coastal California. Grapes reach dizzying levels of ripeness, fueled by bright, cloudless days and cooled by ocean breezes. The result is intensely flavored wines that are full-bodied, medium dry and moderate in acidity. California Chardonnays burst with super-concentrated fruit flavors, ranging from apple and pear to mango and pineapple. This intensity provides enough support for the use of new oak barrels. California Chardonnay is characterized by heaping helpings of lush, juicy fruit and sweet, toasty oak flavors. Such opulent wines are as good for drinking by themselves as with food. At the table, they are best paired with rich, boldly seasoned dishes and grilled foods.

    Pairing: California Chardonnay is voluptuous, a classic blonde bombshell, whose seductive vanilla and nutmeg aromas are beautifully balanced by poached pear and caramelized pineapple flavors. It has a forceful presence on the palate, weighing in at nearly 14% alcohol. Try this wine with grilled salmon with mango chutney, tortellini carbonara or baked brie with fruit compote.

Australian Chardonnay

    Australian wines share much in common with their American counterparts. Both are distinctively “New World” in style. If anything, Australia produces wines that are even more exuberantly fruit forward than those from California. Similarly sunny and desert dry in climate, Southern Australia makes juicy, ripe Chardonnays that are full-bodied, medium dry and low in acidity. These wines are pungently aromatic, jam packed with enough riotous tropical fruit flavor to rival Carmen Miranda’s hat. Australian

    winemakers are also fond of the sweet vanilla and coconut character of American oak barrels. The results are shamelessly hedonistic Chardonnays. While these Australian wines are delicious on their own, they are also ideal complements for sweet, smoky and spicy foods.

    Pairing: A backdrop of caramel and coconut flavors make this Chardonnay an ideal partner for barbeque, whether it’s from Kansas City or Korea. Try this wine with pulled pork sandwiches, satay beef or coconut curried shrimp.

    ? Marnie Old and Old Wines LLC 2005

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