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Champagne is the northernmost wine region of France, located 90 miles outside of Paris. Its storied wine reputation dates back to the Middle Ages; a few of the top houses, to which so much of the region's fame is owed, have been producing since the early 1700s. As one of the coolest wine producing regions in the world, Champagne is perfectly suited to growing , , and Pinot Meunier at the low sugar/high acid levels necessary for sparkling wines. The region's famous chalk soils not only reflect sunlight back to the vines, helping them to ripen, but also impart minerality to the fruit, giving Champagne its characteristic flavor profile.
Chardonnay is a versatile variety that can grow in a wide range of climates, and its neutral flavor profile offers a blank canvas for winemakers to impart their style. In cool climates, Chardonnay displays flavors of green fruit and citrus. As the climate becomes more moderate, flavors of white peach and melon develop. In warm and hot climates, aromas of banana, pineapple, and other tropical fruit are common.
The best Old-World Chardonnay comes from , where it is uniquely reflective of terroir and can express many different flavor profiles even within this relatively small region. In , the northernmost part of Burgundy, wines are often unoaked and known for their minerality, high acidity, and aromas of green apple, citrus, wet stone, and slate. In the , further south, wines are typically aged in neutral French oak and have flavors of stone fruit, toast, almond, and cream. Burgundian producers pioneered the techniques that are now associated with high-quality Chardonnay around the world, including barrel fermentation, barrel ageing, malolactic fermentation, and maturation on lees. The best wines, from producers like , , and , can age in the bottle for a decade or more, developing complex aromas of nuts and mushroom.
New-World Chardonnay tends to grow in warmer climates than in the Old World, producing wines that are full-bodied, high in alcohol, and low in acidity. Use of American oak imparts flavors of vanilla, clove, hazelnut, butter, and caramel on top of peach and banana fruit. Look to producers in and , including , , and , for the highest-quality versions of this New-World style.
Chardonnay’s versatility makes it a great option for pairing. High-acid wines from Chablis are the perfect accompaniment to oysters or clams, while oak-forward Napa wines are the best match for buttery lobster. Halibut, cod, and chicken breast are classic pairings with white Burgundy.
Collector Data For This Wine
- 44 bottles owned
- 2 collectors