Chardonnay is a popular wine loved across the globe. Its unique flavors have led to quite a bit of illegal activity, which has made it hugely popular. The origins of this flavorful wine are not very clear but it is more or less certain that the first strains of Chardonnay grape were cultivated in Maconnais, in the Chardonnay village in France, hence the name.
The DNA experts have summarized the beginnings of this romantic strain rather technically. They claim that crosspollination between two different strains of grapes namely the Gouais Blanc vine and the Pinot Vine led to a seedling in some vineyard somewhere.
The farmer liked the particular new grape strain and multiplied it with cuttings. And the best part is that Chardonnay is not the only grape that owes its ancestry to Pinot and Gouais Blanc, some other popular strains include Gamay Blanc Gloroid, Melon, Sacy, Romorantin, Franc noir de la Haute, Bachet noir and others.
Chardonnay in all probability originated in chardonnay village and probably the monks have spread it across France. The earliest reference to the strain is in 1330. The Cistercian Monks wee known to grow Chardonnay in their Clos de Vougeot amidst stone walls. Some also say that it came from Syria or Lebanon through Egypt, but there is no written proof of it.
Chardonnay was made popular in Australia by Murray Tyrell who is credited to having “stolen” a few wines by jumping over the barbed wire fencing of the Penfold HVD vineyard. He can be easily forgiven as that is what gave the world delectable Australian flavors.
Similarly Chardonnay was supposed to have been smuggled into South Africa; here it became hugely popular with most winemakers jumping on to the bandwagon. It led to overkill, especially as the wine makers were not very familiar with the fine art of making the perfect wine, and soon chardonnay lost its sheen in South Africa.
Wine making per se is a very fine art and chardonnay in particular is a sensitive strain. Chardonnay from cooler climes will give plenty of fruit flavors. You can easily detect pineapple, apple, melon, peach and a whiff of lemon. The warm climate chardonnay is less fruity but gives a wonderful flavor of honey, butterscotch and plenty of buttery, nutty flavors that leave you breathless.
It is quite easy to kill the wonderful flavors of chardonnay with a little too much of oak. You know it is overdone when all you can detect is cinnamon and vanilla and no hint of any fresh fruit. (Exactly the factor that hurt the chardonnay in South Africa) The best Chardonnay is the one that is un-oaked and full of fresh fruit flavors.