Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape varietal used to make white wine. This is the grape of the world's greatest and most expensive dry white wines. It is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of central France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from Chile to Italy and from South Africa to New Zealand.
For new and developing wine regions, growing and producing a Chardonnay wine is seen as a 'rite of passage' and an easy transition into the international wine market. Chardonnay is relatively easy to grow in a wide range of climates and soil (it excels in poor, stony, chalky, clay-limestone soils) and although resistant to molds and cold weather this early ripening grape varietal is prone to frost damage.

 

The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as 'terroir' and 'oak'. Because of its 'non-aromatic' personality, Chardonnay responds well to winemaker influences: oak aging, high skin pigmentation, practice of extended skin contact, barrel fermentation, malolactic fermentation etc, which will influence the final wine style.
Chardonnay is vinified in many different styles, from the elegant, 'flinty' wines of Chablis to rich, buttery Meursaults and New World wines with tropical, stone fruit flavours. It is capable of producing high sugars (and therefore alcohol) although these develop slowly in cool climates, just as acids can fall rapidly in hot climates. Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne. A peak in popularity in the late 1980's through until the mid '90s gave way to a backlash among those wine drinkers who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalization of wine. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most widely-planted grape varietals worldwide and planted in more wine regions than any other grape.

Note: Remember not to serve Chardonnay too chilled; unoaked styles 8-10°C, and oaked styles can be from 10-12°C degrees. For more info on serving temperatures: Click Here.