In their haste to emulate the famous examples of Burgundy many producers from all over the world pushed to the limit the idea that Chardonnay plus oak equals a great wine. Often the more expensive barrels were put to one side in favour of cheaper alternatives like oak chips. The wines could be cheap, but were often pretty nasty as well. Although such practices are still around to cater for the mass market, more and more producers are going back to using better quality barrels and less oak influence, or dropping it altogether. There is no doubt that the floral, orchard fruit and nut characteristics of Chardonnay can work well with oak and the subsequent toasty, buttery notes of age can help to produce some of the world’s greatest white wines. In northern France the cooler climate produces a grape with much higher acidity which makes it a perfect component for Champagne. It appears everywhere around the world because it is relatively easy to grow, and can vary a lot when it comes to style; the perfect example being Chablis, which many people do not realise is 100% Chardonnay- the original unoaked style.

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