Did you know that May 23rd is National Chardonnay Day? This is proof that we live in the greatest civilization of all time! A day to celebrate Chardonnay. What could be better? So clearly this Toast Thursday is dedicated to the most popular of grapes, the Chardonnay.
Despite what you may think, all you red wine lovers, Chardonnay is actually the most prevalent grape grown in California for wine making. Nearly 100,000 acres of Chardonnay are harvested every year. Chardonnay is one of the six “noble grapes” joining Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot on the list of historic French wine grapes.
The proud Chardonnay grape traces its ancestry back to the Chardonnay village in the Burgundy region of France. There, Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc grapes were cross-bred to produce what we now call the Chardonnay grape. As early as the 1300s, Cistercian monks made wine from this new grape. Hundreds of years later this wine dynasty continues.
Every winery’s Chardonnay wine is unique, but at the core, there are two critical decisions that each winemaker makes that profoundly influence the resulting wine. First, the winemaker chooses to use (or not) malolactic fermentation. This is a fancy term that describes the process where malic acid is converted to lactic acid. Lactic acid contributes a buttery nature to the wine while malic acid produces a wine with “sharper” fruit flavors.
The second winemaker decision is the choice of aging container. Time in an oak barrel will lend a smoothness often evocative of cream or caramel. Alternatively, fermentation in stainless steel will retain the wine’s crisp and bright notes.
So how will you celebrate National Chardonnay Day? Join us as we toast the noble Chardonnay grape and the wonderful wine that is its result!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?