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Chardonnay: Characteristics of the Grape and Wines

Chardonnay is one of the most popular varieties of white grapes in the world. It is used to make special white wines that uniquely express the place where the grapes were grown and the techniques that the winery used.

Also known as the “queen of white grapes”, this variety is one of the most commonly grown around the world. It is also one of the most internationally renowned white grape varieties.

The Chardonnay grape is originally from the Burgundy region in France, and its name comes from a small town in the Mâconnais district. This area in Southern Burgundy produces both relatively cheap and high-value Chardonnays.

Chardonnay: características de la uva y vinos

Characteristics of the Chardonnay Grape

Chardonnay grapes are easy to grow in both cooler and warmer climes. This is what has lead it to being one of the most commonly grown grapes on the planet. It’s not just used for making white wines, but also for creating champagne, sparkling wines and dessert wines.

These grapes are a greenish yellow in colour when they start to ripen. They tend to darken into a yellow or greenish brown by the time they’re harvested. They are small in size and round in shape, with quite high acidity levels. In cooler climes, it has flavours of green fruit, while in warmer regions it shifts to flavours of tropic fruits.

The fact that they can be grown in different terrains means that there are many styles of Chardonnay. From smoky citric wines to wines teeming with minerals or even tropical wines with honey tones. In other words, this white wine will have a different flavour depending on where it is grown and on the wine-making process. 

Chardonnay: características de la uva y vinos

Attributes of Chardonnay Wines

Just like any kind of wine, the wine-making process for Chardonnay starts at the vineyards with the harvested, pressed and fermented grapes. If the process is interrupted before the wine is completely fermented, there will be more residual sugar and, as such, the wine will end up being sweeter. If the oenologist lets the fermentation run its course, this will create a drier wine with lower levels of sugar. 

In general, Chardonnay is a medium- to full-bodied dry wine, with low acidity levels and moderate tannins. It flavours range from apple to lemon, or even more tropical fruits such as pineapple.

The origin and size of the barrel and the amount of time the wine spends in contact with it as it ages will determine the intensity of its secondary flavours. If it is aged in oak barrels, it will have a creamier texture with notes of vanilla and spices. If a Chardonnay is aged in stainless-steel barrels, the wine will end up with a crisper consistency with fruity flavours.

Sometime, the winemakers will stir the leas, which are dead yeast cells, during the ageing process to improve the texture and bring out the nutty notes in the wine.

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we have a range of white wines made with Chardonnay grapes. Coto de Imaz Reserva Blanco, El Coto Semidulce and 875m Chardonnay. Have you tried them yet? You can buy them on our online store:

El Coto de Rioja store
Chardonnay: características de la uva y vinos

Pairing Chardonnay

What could you enjoy alongside our range of Chardonnay wines? Knowing how to combine different flavours with the right wine can make the whole experience on the palate much more pleasurable. We've got some tips on what to pair with Chardonnay: 

  • When pairing a dish with wine, it is important to balance out both the food and the drink. Fortunately, Chardonnay is a very versatile wine when it comes to pairing it with food. 
  • It’s the perfect wine to go with seafood, light fish dishes, goat’s cheese or fresh cheese. A good example of this is our 875 m Chardonnay, which is fermented in the barrel and has fruity and floral aromas mixed with vanilla.  
  • If you want to pair a Chardonnay with meat, we recommend our Coto de Imaz Reserva Blanco. This is a reserve wine with a lingering creaminess and a level of complexity in its aromatic notes of honey and orange blossom, which goes perfectly with game, red meat and beef.  
  • Another Chardonnay wine that’s a great choice for pairing with cheese is El Coto Semidulce. This wine with aromas of pineapple and citrus fruit is the perfect choice to go with starters and nibbles, or even desserts and fruit.

With the warmer months just around the corner, white wines are taking centre stage at our tables once again. The serving temperature for a wine with fruity notes, as is the case with Chardonnay, is important. Do you know what the right temperature would be? We’ll tell you more in this article: