Every year since 2010, wine lovers stateside and abroad take the Thursday before Memorial Day to celebrate Chardonnay. Bubbles or still, oaked or stainless steel fermented, crisp and young or creamy and mature, there is a Chardonnay style for everyone.
The second most planted grape in France, Chardonnay is primarily found in Chablis, Champagne and Burgundy, which account for over 60% of all Chardonnay plantings in France. The next largest planting is in Languedoc, where it was first planted in Limoux, and can be blended up to 30% with Mauzac in the Methode Ancestrale sparkling wine produced there. Other wine growing regions where Chardonnay is prominent include Australia’s Margaret River and Adelaide Hills and New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay. It’s also prominent in Canada and New York, and used as a blending grape in many wines elsewhere.
Of course, one cannot say “Chardonnay” without thinking of California.
Used to be, when someone said “California Chardonnay,” I used to think of one particular style, the heavily oaked, banana taffy tasting stuff that was served to “Ladies Who Lunch.” But California winemakers have been moving away from that style, I have found many that I like.
For this year’s celebration, we have assembled a collection of California Chardonnays from a variety of wineries including Banshee, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Hanzell Vineyards, Rodney Strong Vineyards and Wente Vineyards to taste on this special day.
The wines pictured above range in price from $15 to $40, and most are around $25 each.
The good folks at Wente Vineyards are hosting a Tweet Up to celebrate their own Chardonnay Day Celebration, which will be broadcast from the Wente family’s estate in Livermore Valley, California beginning at 7:00 p.m. Central (8:00 p.m. Eastern/5:00 p.m. Pacific). They’ve sent us three of their selections, and we will be tasting and tweeting about them using #ChardDay and #WenteChard.
The Wente clone of Chardonnay has a special place in history. Developed by the Wente viticulturists in cooperation with UC Davis from budwood selected by the family in both Burgundy and California, it has become the reference point for Chardonnay in the New World. It was the source for both the Wente 1960 Chardonnay, described by the Guide Michelin as the best in California, and comparable to the great wines of Burgundy; and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the great Paris Tasting of 1976, organized by Steven Spurrier.
Chardonnay is so versatile, you can pair it with many different foods, depending on the style. Bubbles and oysters, oaked Chardonnay and Roasted Chicken or Turkey, aged Chardonnay with aged Cheeses and smoked fish. I’ve even enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay with hazelnut chocolate!
Want to read more about Chardonnay? Try these posts:
Chardonnay Day was first spearheaded by social media extraordinaire Rick Bakas. To let him know you plan to celebrate Chardonnay, just RSVP here. To follow the discussion on twitter just look for #ChardonnayDay or #ChardDay
All throughout the day wine lovers will be celebrating with their favorite Chardonnay. We hope you will join us and toast this honored grape!