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Chardonnay is the most popular white wine on earth and, more recently, it has also become the most divisive. Chardonnay was born in the Burgundy region of France, where it is known as White Burgundy, and it was there that the wine gained great acclaim for its elegance. Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy. One of the world’s most popular grapes, Chardonnay is made in a wide range of styles from lean, sparkling Blanc de Blancs to rich, creamy white wines aged in oak.
The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavors. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Carneros AVA of California), Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavors of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand), the flavors become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations (such as the Central Coast AVA of California), more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavors with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.