Chardonnay is one of the most popular grape varieties in the world. There are plenty of people that think Chardonnay is synonymous with the big, bold, buttery, oaky white wine that became very popular circa 1987 in Napa Valley, but Chardonnay is actually made in a variety of styles and flavours.
Award-Winning Canadian Chardonnay
With our cool climate and unique terroir, Canada makes award-winning Chardonnays that rival some of the top Chardonnay in the world and there are delicious cool-climate Canadian wines for every palate. Wines from Canada are finally getting international recognition from some of the top sommeliers in the world and are winning global awards. Over 20 years ago it was Mission Hill Family Estate Winery that put British Columbia wineries on the map with international recognition and now wines made all over Canada are getting their time in the spotlight, too. This year Decanter magazine, a UK publication, recognized many Canadian wineries like JoieFarm, Noble Ridge, 13th Street and Liquidity, while respected wine magazines have been scoring Canadian wines in the 90s for years.
Cool Climate Chardonnay vs. Warm Climate Chardonnay
The flavour profile of Chardonnay depends a lot on where it is grown. The wine tends to take on the characteristics of the produce you might find in the region. Warm to hot climate Chardonnay has a plethora of ripe tropical fruit flavours like banana and grilled pineapple. Whereas cool-climate Chardonnay displays flavours of apples, nectarine, pear and citrus. So it stands to reason that you'll find more similarities with tree fruit or stone fruit in Canadian Chardonnay.
The Winemaker's Use of Oak Barrels with Chardonnay
Contrary to popular belief, Chardonnay doesn't grow on oak trees! Not every Chardonnay has that big oaky flavour that seems to polarize wine drinkers. If a wine has been aged in an oak barrel before bottling, there is bound to be some influence either in taste or texture in the resulting wine. Varies toasting levels of the oak, the kind of oak used and whether or not the barrel is new or has been previously used (and how many times) will affect the wine's taste profile.
If there is no oak influence at all on the wine, you get the pure fruit tast of the Chardonnay grapes. At the other end of the spectrum, if the wine has been sitting in a brand new, heavily charred oak barrel for an extended period of time it will have a robust cedar, vanilla, toasted flavour. You can go from one extreme to the other and everything in between with Chardonnay! Just because you've tasted one Chardonnay, doesn't mean you'll love - or hate - them all.
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