Australia’s love affair with Chardonnay has had its ups and downs, but there’s no question it’s a life-long romance.
What makes Australian Chardonnay so special? Let’s find out!
As Australia’s most widely planted white wine variety, one of the most intriguing things about Chardonnay is that it’s constantly evolving and being refined.
Once derided for being overly big and oaky, today winemakers have really struck an exquisite balance and there are a range of styles now available for every drinker’s particular taste.
ORIGINS OF CHARDONNAY
Chardonnay is thought to have originated in France’s Burgundy region and is now one of the world’s most-planted white grape varieties.
It grows wherever wine is produced, and is considered quite a neutral variety in that many of its flavours derive from the region it’s grown in, the winemaker’s craft, and the use of oak.
It’s also one of the most commonly used components in Sparkling wines around the world.
CHARDONNAY IN AUSTRALIA
Chardonnay arrived in Australia as part of the James Busby collection in 1832, and the Mudgee region of NSW has strong claims to have a direct lineage to these original cuttings.
Tyrrell’s 1971 Vat 47 Chardonnay started Australia’s love affair with the variety and Chardonnay sales boomed in the 1980s and ’90s.
At the time, the market was dominated by broader, toastier styles – big, rich and full-bodied, these buttery wines tended not to age beyond five years.
People soon tired of these styles, resulting in the phrase ABC – “anything but Chardonnay” – and the variety plummeted in popularity.
Winemakers responded by refining their approach to Chardonnay and producing more refined expressions that reflected the site, region and season more clearly, leading to its renewed popularity.
Today, some of the best Chardonnay in the world hails from Australian regions, from the cooler climes of Margaret River, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and Tasmania, as well as warmer regions like the Hunter Valley, which is home to the oldest-producing Chardonnay vineyard in the world.
CHARDONNAY AT A GLANCE
A TASTE OF CHARDONNAY
Given the neutrality of the grape, Chardonnay’s palate and texture differs from region to region.
Wines from the Adelaide Hills, for instance, tend to be elegant and finely structured with white peach and nectarine flavours, while Margaret River Chardonnays are full-flavoured, rich and powerful.
Victorian styles range from elegant to big, bold and generous – similar diversity is evidenced in NSW also, depending on the sub-region, where cooler climates like that of Tumbarumba and Orange tend to result in leaner wines, while warmer sites like the Hunter produce fuller, richer expressions.
FOOD PAIRING WITH CHARDONNAY
With such diversity in styles, a range of food matches become possible with Chardonnay.
The more refined styles are ideal for seafood, such as oysters and shellfish, thanks to their pristine acidity, while medium-weight and fuller styles are the perfect accompaniment to chicken and poultry dishes, as well as pastas and richer seafoods in creamy sauces.
If you’re looking to experience the full breadth of what this classic variety can offer your palate, try a Champing for Chardonnay selection from Wine Selectors.
Featuring such beautiful wines as the Gold medal-winning De Iuliis Chardonnay 2018, it provides an excellent overview of the contemporary Australian Chardonnay scene and its regions from just $16.50 a bottle, with the latest issue of Selector magazine included FREE – exclusive to readers of The New Daily!
This month from Wine Cellar