Pronounce it: shar-don-ay

The global celebrity

Chardonnay is one of the few grape varieties that has become more famous than the wines made from it. The fact that it is relatively easy to grow has made it a favourite of growers; and that it is so adaptable to blending and to different practices in winemaking has made it popular in the winery.

Burgundy is the classic home of Chardonnay, where the style of the wine can vary from neighbouring slopes and sites depending on he soil and the specific climate. California became known for oaky, modern Chardonnays, although styles are becoming more restrained now.

Chardonnay can make excellent dry wines but it is also particularly important as the foundation of Champagne. A Blanc de Blancs is 100 per cent Chardonnay, while many of the most famous Champagnes are blends with the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In these blends Chardonnay provides a firm backbone, and also the acidity which is an important factor in ageability.

Main characteristics

Colour: white; varying from pale to yellow gold

Body: medium to full bodied

Tastes: the flavours range from citrus and apples to tropical fruits, and fermenting and ageing the wines with oak add aromas of toast, butter and even bacon

Often blended with: Semillon, Colombard, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Pinots Noir and Meunier (in sparkling wine)

Price range: £3.99 to £399

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