Grape Guide: Chardonnay

Chardonnay may not be as you remember it in the 80s and 90s, when the most premium drops were prized for their rich and ripe full flavours. Today, many winegrowers, especially in Victoria, are opting to produce a fresher and lighter expression which requires a gentler touch of oak; lees contact and malolactic fermentation. 

At All Saints we make a lovely, modern style of Chardonnay with fresh lifted fruit which is all about varietal expression. In this article, we cover everything there is to know about buying, drinking (and enjoying!) these delicious and balanced modern styles of Chardonnay. 

Chardonnays roots 

Chardonnay is the most widely travelled white variety, cropping up in almost every wine producing country. Is an adaptable variety and can be grown in cool regions as well as warm areas. 

Even in its native country of France it is unusual in being found in several regions. From the far north of Champagne, where it is used in the eponymous fizz through to Chablis and Burgundy with their classic table wines.

The Rutherglen expression 

Chardonnay is a productive, early budding and early ripening variety, so much so that Nick has already picked and pressed our chardonnay grapes for the All Saints 2021 vintage. 

Grapes for our Chardonnay were picked in the cool early morning before gentle pressing to separate the juice. The grapes are then fermented at cool temperature in stainless steel tanks to retain freshness and pure Chardonnay varietal characters. A small amount of lees stirring over 2-3 months helps to build texture on the palate before blending.

Cellaring and serving your chardonnay 

Whites with an emphasis on fruit characters tend not to be candidates for extended ageing. Our Chardonnay will cellar well for 2-3 years which will see it soften a little whilst retaining vibrant fruit freshness, but do not keep beyond 2023. 

When serving at home or in a restaurant, Chardonnay will benefit from being left for 20–25 minutes to warm up out of the fridge before being served, which allows them to really open up. Be patient, the flavours that reveal themselves are worth the wait.

What to eat with Chardonnay

With its clean fresh stone-fruit characters and crisp citrus-like acidity, it would be a perfect partner to a simple dish of steamed or grilled fish with fresh vegetables or salad. 

Now that’s perfect meal inspiration for the end of summer.

Enjoy!