International Chardonnay Day this Thursday (May 24) might just be the excuse you need to open that bottle or provide the perfect opportunity to rediscover a wine you have not tried for a while. Frankie Walker is the proud leader of the Lion Ambassador Team which educates and upskills the hospitality industry instructing about wine varietals, craft beer and more. Here he gives us pointers on how to serve the perfect pour.
NOT TOO ICY
If chardonnay is served too cold, it loses its creamy texture and any ripe, fruit characters. The perfect temperature to serve unoaked chardonnay is 7-10C, while oaked chardonnay is best served at 10-13C. Most people drink their chardonnay too cold, so if you find chardonnay too bitter or acidic, try letting the bottle warm up at room temperature.
OAKED V UNOAKED
The age-old question of oaked versus unoaked chardonnay totally comes down to personal taste preferences. If you like flavours of smoke, toast or warm spice, oaked chardonnay will be your best friend. If you prefer fresh, citrusy, mineral and elegant wines, try an unoaked chardonnay. The Chablis region in France is famous for these.
IT’S A CHANGELING
The Chardonnay grape is extremely versatile. It can grow in a range of climates, and the actual taste of the grape will change depending on where in the world it is grown. In slightly warmer climates, chardonnay gives off nectarine, apricot and stone fruit characters, while cooler climates will yield flavours of green apple and lime. Chardonnay is also one of the three main grapes used in the production of Champagne.
Try your chardonnay matched to one of these recipes from bite.co.nz
COS LETTUCE WITH GARLIC PRAWNS — choose unoaked chardonnay.
It is a great match for fresh, seafood dishes. Without oak, you allow the true flavour of the chardonnay grape to express itself. A great starting point would be a fresh, citrusy, unoaked chardonnay that comes from a cool region (like Marlborough or Chablis). If you are looking for an unoaked chardonnay, I would recommend looking at the Chablis region in France — the creme de la crème.
Rich, creamy dishes are a wonderful match for oaked chardonnay. A wine will develop flavours of smoke, cinnamon, coconut, and/or warm spice if it is allowed to age in oak. Barrel ageing allows wines to breathe (the pores in oak give wine oxygen exposure) which can result in a process called malolactic fermentation which gives a wine that beautiful creamy, buttery taste. Creamy dishes complement the creamy texture often found in oaked chardonnay incredibly well. If you’re looking for a great, rich, oaked chardonnay, look for out Martinborough Vineyards Chardonnay or the Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay. Both are fantastic examples.