The Best Chardonnay Wines: A Sommelier's Guide

Delve into the world of Chardonnay wines, exploring the differences between new and old, and tips on how to fully enjoy this exquisite wine...
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Chardonnay, one of the most popular white wine varietals, has captivated wine enthusiasts for centuries. With its diverse flavours and styles, Chardonnay offers a delightful experience for novice and seasoned wine drinkers. Sit back and delve into the world of Chardonnay wines, exploring the differences between new and old Chardonnays and providing tips on thoroughly enjoying this exquisite wine.

What makes Chardonnay wines unique?

Chardonnay grapes are known for their versatility, allowing winemakers to produce various styles. Chardonnay wines can cater to multiple palates, from crisp and unoaked to rich and buttery. The primary flavours found in this exquisite wine include apple, pear, citrus, and tropical fruits, with secondary notes of vanilla, butter, and oak.

Understanding the difference between new and old Chardonnays

New Chardonnays, or unoaked or stainless steel Chardonnays, are fermented and aged using large stainless steel tanks or neutral oak barrels. These wines tend to be lighter, crisper, and fruit-forward, allowing the grape's natural flavours to shine. On the other hand, old Chardonnays, often called oaked Chardonnays, are aged in oak barrels, resulting in a richer, creamier texture and flavours of vanilla, caramel, and toast.

How to enjoy Chardonnay wines

1. Serve at the right temperature: Chardonnay is best served chilled but not too cold. Aim for a temperature between 7 °C and 13 °C (45°F and 55°F) to appreciate its aromas and flavours fully.

2. Use the correct glassware: Opt for a medium-sized, tulip-shaped glass to enhance the wine's aromas and concentrate the flavours.

3. Take time to swirl and sniff: Gently swirl the glass to release and appreciate its aromas before sipping. Inhale the scents, identifying the various fruit and oak notes.

4. Savour the flavours: When tasting Chardonnay, let the wine linger on your palate, allowing the flavours to unfold. Pay attention to the balance between fruitiness, acidity, and oakiness.

5. Pair with complementary foods: Chardonnay pairs well with various dishes. Try pairing them with seafood, salads, or light pasta dishes for unoaked Chardonnays. Oaked Chardonnays complement decadent dishes like roasted chicken, creamy pasta, or buttery seafood.

6. Experiment with different styles: Explore the world of Chardonnay by trying wines from various regions and winemaking techniques. Each bottle offers a unique experience, showcasing the diversity of this beloved varietal.

Whether you prefer the crispness of a new Chardonnay or the complexity of an old one, there is a Chardonnay wine out there to suit your taste. By understanding the differences between new and old Chardonnays and following these tips, you can fully appreciate these great wines' nuances and pleasures. Cheers to exploring the world of Chardonnay!

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