What is the secret of Chardonnay's magic? You will also find out how to get the most out of the bottles you've bought. As well as a handy "How to Taste" section, you'll learn a few key tips for storing your Chardonnay, when to drink it, and what food really brings the wine alive. Chardonnay (the book) is a fun, fascinating guide for anyone who's ever thought they'd like to know more about what's happening in their wine glass but was afraid to ask.
Ten years after the publication of the highly acclaimed, award-winning wine guide Côte D'Or: A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy, the "Bible of Burgundy," Clive Coates now offers this thoroughly revised and updated sequel. This long-awaited work details all the major vintages from 2006 back to 1959 and includes thousands of recent tasting notes of the top wines, useful as a reference for wine pairing and a primer in how to taste wine. Coates, a Master of Wine who has spent much of the last thirty years in Burgundy, France, considers it to be the most exciting, complex, and intractable wine region in the world, its vineyards and wineries the most likely to yield fine wines of elegance and finesse. This coffee table book is an indispensable guide for the amateur sommelier and food and wine professionals alike.
Here are five facts to help you enjoy your next glass of Chardonnay:
1. Chardonnay is the most widely distributed white wine grape in the world. While overall acreage of Chardonnay falls short of Spain’s Airen grape and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano), Chardonnay is planted in virtually every wine region in the world. This is due in part to Chardonnay’s adaptability to a wide range of climates and soils as well as its popularity.
2. Chardonnay is related to Pinot noir. In fact, Chardonnay is Pinot noir’s “daughter”. A chance crossing of Pinot noir and an obscure grape variety called Gouais Blanc produced the most popular wine grape in the world. Gouais Blanc, which is virtually nonexistent in France today, is thought to have been brought to Burgundy by the Romans between the 5th and 10th centuries. Pinot noir and Gouais Blanc are also the proud parents of Gamay, Melon de Bourgogne, Blaufränkisch and Auxerrois!
3. Chardonnay takes its name from the village of Chardonnay in the Mâcon region of Burgundy. It’s difficult to say exactly when the Chardonnay grape first appeared in the vineyards of Burgundy, but over the centuries it has been spelled Chardenai, Chardenay, Chardenet, Chardennet, Chardonai, Chardonnet, Chatenait, Chardonet, Chaudenay, and Chaudenet before the modern spelling of Chardonnay became it’s standardized name in the 1890s. Virtually all other synonyms for Chardonnay have been abandoned except for the synonym “Morillon” still used by some winemakers in the Styrian region of Austria.
4. Chardonnay has a wide range of flavors depending on where the grapes are grown. Chardonnay wines have a reputation for being made in the cellar rather than the vineyard, meaning the influence of the winemaker plays a large part in the character and flavor of the resulting wine. With that said, location does matter. Chardonnay grown in very warm wine regions like Napa Valley or Australia tend to exhibit tropical fruit flavors of Pineapple, Mango, or Papaya with soft acidity whereas Chardonnay grown in cool wine growing regions like the Willamette Valley tend to exhibit bright Apple, Pear, Peach and Citrus flavors with bright acidity. The oak and buttery qualities of some Chardonnay wines are the results of style choices made by the winemaker, not characteristics of the grape itself.
5. More Chardonnay is produced in Burgundy than Pinot noir. We tend to think of red Pinot noir wines when we think of Burgundy, after all Burgundy is the name we use for a shade of red, but actually, Chardonnay reigns as the production champion. Chardonnay accounts for almost 60% of Burgundy’s wine production compared to only 30% for Pinot noir. The remaining 10% is split among Aligoté, Cremant de Borgogne, and Rosé.
Chardonnay shows it’s best served between 55ºF and 58ºF in a glass with a wide bowl and a narrow opening — use a Pinot noir glass in a pinch.
Appellation of Origin
Often referred to as an "expression of place," wine has been associated with its point of origin for hundreds of years. European wine-producing countries, such as France and Spain, have long recognized origin and "terroir" – the combination of location, soil, topography and climate – as having direct influence on both the character and quality of wine grapes. Mapping terroir and accounting for this influence, by defining sophisticated appellations of origin, became a highly valued system for these regions to measure and market the quality and distinction of their wines.
The term "Terroir" describes a special set of conditions that contribute to the character of a wine. Individual terroir of a vineyard or a larger region is defined by the type of soil, bedrock, weather and growing conditions, topography, type of grapes planted and wine making influences. These factors combine to give each wine its own personality and often a recognizable connection to the local terroir.
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