Chardonnay is a popular white wine grape grown in almost all wine regions on earth. It is believed to have originated in France’s Burgundy region and arrived to Australia as part of James Busby’s collection of European vine cuttings.
Chardonnay is a high yield, early budding, early ripening variety, that’s usually picked at the start of the season. It’s also a thin-skinned grape which makes it somewhat susceptible to disease and bunch rot. Like Shiraz, Chardonnay’s popularity stems from its versatility and flexibility. Its capable of being grown in a variety of different soils and climates and its neutral flavour profile allows it to be turned into a variety of different styles of wine. Cool regions typically produce softer more elegant styles of Chardonnay, whereas warmer regions tend to produce rich, ripe, decadent wines with characteristics of tropical fruit, toast, honey and spices.
Once in the winery Chardonnay can either be crushed and de-stemmed or whole bunch pressed depending on the desired style. Unlike the delicate grape variety – Semillon, which prefers minimal interference in the winery, winemakers can be creative with Chardonnay. It’s common practise for top quality wines to be fermented in the actual French oak barrels, the same ones typically only used for maturation in other varieties, in what’s called a Wild yeast ferment. Sometimes the barrels are even left in the sun to aid in the fermenting process. The oak fermentation produces a more complex toastier style of Chardonnay, with strong secondary characters, capable of ageing in the cellar. Another style of Chardonnay is the Chablis style, where the fruit is fermented in stainless steel tanks. This method helps accentuate the fruit and natural acidity and minerality of Chardonnay to create a more feminine style of wine.
If you’re after a softer style of Chardonnay, try our 96-point scoring 2012 ‘Maluna’ Chardonnay where an unusually cool vintage helped us craft a wine untypical to the Hunter region. For a Chardonnay with medium influence of oak try our 2015 ‘Estate’ Chardonnay which just recently won GOLD at the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine show. For a Chablis style chardonnay try our 2014 ‘Dam Block’ Chardonnay where we used minimal oak influence to accentuate the Chablis, mineral like characters of the Dam Blocks fruit.