Chardonnay. Jancis Robinson calls it “The most famous vine variety of all.” Like it or love it (there’s no animosity ‘round here), it has a rich history dating back a long time to France as the principal white grape in illustrious regions of Chablis, Burgundy & Champagne.

And what is there not to love? The Chablis style from the north of Burgundy is unoaked or very lightly oaked and F R E S H. Think lean, wet rocks (trust me), citrus blossom and a little melon. Not super acidic, well balanced. The oaked style from Montrachet in the Côte de Beaune for example is rich, bold, aromatic, toasty, buttery like toast and (true of both styles) higher in alcohol (than most white wines).

It had its time in the spotlight in the ‘80s when Chardonnay became a household name and not only among wine connoisseurs. The more oak the better (sound familiar?). The Chardonnay bubble burst at least partly with the arrival of highly acidic and unoaked Sauvignon Blanc, therefore, leading to the creation of ABC drinkers (Anything But Chardonnay). Yes, I’m looking at you mum.

Chardonnay is a wine that is made at the hand of the winemaker*- they love it for its malleability and versatility – it can handle oak; lots, a little, new or old. Depending on ripeness, the aromas can produce delicate florals and citrus or punchy pineapple & brioche and I haven’t even mentioned its alias sparkling wine!

Despite the backlash, by the early 1990s,Chardonnay was the most widely planted white variety in Australia. And is anyone surprised? The climate allows for both big, tropical, highly oaked styles akin to what is seen out of California (hot) and due to pockets of higher elevation, the cool climate style that is steely with more ‘green’ flavours- think of pears and melon. The best of both worlds.

Enter our gem the Charli Jaye Chardonnay 2018. Produced from vines planted in 2012 on our cellar door block, it won gold at the Melbourne International Wine Competition in 2020. A really elegant wine with a perfume of Packham pears and vanilla bean. A clean steely backbone supports apples and oak spice (apple pie anyone?!) on the palate. The fantastic length will leave the savorer wanting more.

And if you aren’t salivating yet, the Charli Jaye is extremely food-friendly; consider having it with a mushroom risotto or how about soft shell crab? No, I’ve got it, Manuka smoked salmon fillet. Or or or pork tenderloin…

Happy International Chardonnay Day. I know what I’ll be toasting with tonight, what will you be enjoying?

*Most vignerons have a certain amount of animosity towards winemakers for the credit they receive about wine. The phrase “the wine is made in the vineyard” rings true- grow good grapes and the winemaker can only but make good wine. Chardonnay is a wine that takes on a lot of its character and nuances from the winemaking process; ripeness at picking, use of oak (and percentage of new), aging & lees stirring to name a few.

Chloë, marketing coordinator & wine nerd