Chardonnay, Queen of grapes?


“The pre wine tasting questionnaire from the cruise liner’s sommelier asked us to rate a number of grapes on a scale of 1-5, and bizarrely all of the ladies in our tasting group marked Chardonnay DOWN quite heavily! Undeterred the sommelier said that he would bet money on being able to change their minds but the sceptical babble from them was quite loud!”

Queen of Grapes

Is there a more famous grape than Chardonnay! You can find it on labels from California, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Hungary, Italy, Washington, Spain ……. but you won’t find it on labels of wine made in Meursault, St Aubin, Montrachet, Montagny, Puligny Montrachet, Chablis, all village areas within the Burgundy region of France.

The sommelier poured the third white wine to taste, we had already had a Sauvignon Blanc and a Riesling, and he swirled, sniffed, and invited us to follow. This was a Chardonnay of the highest order, pale yellow in colour, buttery and even honeyed in smell. What would our group of ladies say!

“Ooh, that’s nice, almost sweet, is it German? I like this.” Gotcha!!!

I suppose the explanation got a little technical for them about “terroir” and the issue of oaking or maturing in oak barrels. But the point was well made that several years ago the demand for meaty, big and bouncy white wines almost killed off the fabulously subtle Chardonnays from Burgundy, with the new world winemakers once shovelling sack loads of oak chips into wine vats faster than a coal man filling sacks!

But what we have in Burgundy is more than a varietal wine, with the exquisite taste of each wine so variable depending on the village, the field, the winemaker, that you could be forgiven for thinking you were tasting wines made from different grapes. Subtlety abounds, but the underlying Burgundian Chardonnay is always there. Celebrate it ….The ladies on the cruise liner did!

Chardonnay in Puligny

So in the last couple of weeks we have tasted Chardonnay of enormous variety and awesome quality and here’s a sample:

• The basic Chardonnay at only €10 at Michel Rebourgeon in Pommard

• The St Aubin Premier Cru for €25 at Nuiton Beaunoy in Beaune

• The Meursault, Clos de la Maix, Monopole for €35 at Francois Gaunoux in Meursault

• The Hameau de Blagny for €49 at Caveau de Puligny in Puligny Montrachet

• The Chassagne Montrachet for €96 in Patriarch Pere et Fils, Beaune

Chardonnay in Meursault

Today we are returning to Francois Gaunoux for a tasting and lunch at The Pavillon just outside Volnay where Claudine’s Meursault wines predominate. We hope you will try some Burgundian Chardonnay too, wherever you are in the world, maybe you can find one of those we have tasted this week?

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3 thoughts on “Chardonnay, Queen of grapes?

    • Here we are in Burgundy having breakfast and you’ve given us all a laugh! Today’s tasting is of Chardonnay from around €35 upwards. Maybe you’re in the same camp as the cruise ladies! Try a Chablis for around a tenner! M&S are ok 👌

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