As the world’s most popular and versatile wine, Chardonnay offers a range of flavors. From rich and buttery to crisp and light.
The Chardonnay grape originated in Eastern France in the Burgundy region but is now prominent throughout the world. It is very adaptable to the climate where it is grown. In cool climates the grape takes on more fruit flavor and in warm climates it has soft sweet flavors of honey and butter.
Throughout history it is traditional to ferment Chardonnay in oak barrels. Especially, Chardonnay wines from California. However, more wineries are starting to age and ferment the wine in concrete or stainless steel tanks.
Unoaked or stainless chardonnays are not aged in oak barrels so they do not have that buttery, creamy flavor you expect from a chardonnay. Instead, these wines are crisp, light and have prominent citrus flavors.
Oak-aged Chardonnay has a buttery or creamy flavor because it also goes through a secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation. During this process, some or all of the tart malic acid is transformed into softer lactic acid. This turns the wine from crisp to fat and brings to play the buttery flavor.
Wine of the Month: Patz & Hall Chardonnay
Aromas of ginger, guava and creme brulee with toasted almond, and toffee-brown sugar. Dense, and full bodied, there’s a pleasingly crisp and mouthwatering green apple note on the palate that melds with dried apricot, tangerine flavors along with a hint of toasted oak.
Patz & Hall was founded in 1988 by two couples, James Hall & Ann Moses and Donald & Heather Patz. After working together for another winery, they were inspired by a trip to Burgundy where they learned more about crafting exceptional Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. They were led to find cooler growing sites for their California wines and sought out a distinct terroir in Napa Valley for Chardonnay and the Sonoma Coast for Pinot Noir. They’ve become well-known for their outstanding collection of each varietal.
Chardonnay aged in oak pairs best with food that has a buttery or creamy sauce and mild cheeses. Chardonnay that has been through both oak aging and malolactic fermentation pair best with meats such as chicken, lean pork and veal.
Recipe: Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbs Thai fish sauce
2 Tbs Thai peanut butter
2 Tbs Thai red curry paste
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked rice
Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with salt, pepper and juice from 1 lime.
In another bowl, stir together the coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, peanut butter, curry paste, brown sugar, ginger and juice from the remaining lime.
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the coconut milk mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp is pink, curled and cooked through.
Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Serve over rice.