Wine Tips: How do you like your Chardonnay?

So how DO you like your chardonnay, with or without malolactic fermentation? Or to put it another way, do you prefer your chardonnays buttery and creamy, or would you rather have them crispy and fruity? It’s a serious question, because the market has literally flip-flopped over this issue for the past 20 years, beginning with the big meaty buttery chardonnays from Australia or California, but then, as the desire for such wines reduced, changing the style to something more flinty, minerally and crisp …… almost like a Sauvignon Blanc. How did they do it? Simple, the winemakers stopped the secondary malolactic fermentation taking place, thereby eliminating the formation of Diacetyl in the wine which gives a wine that buttery characteristic.

Buttery aroma from chardonnay malolactic fermentation

And so, overnight, as tastes and demand changed, so did the flavour of the SAME wine, made from the SAME grape, by the SAME winemaker. Clever eh! But not if you are a Burgundian winemaker, because wines such as those from Meursault, Puligny Montrachet etc have their culture and traditions to maintain, because Meursault isn’t just any old Chardonnay, the word Meursault from the village of the same name conjures up tastes and aromas related to Diacetyl, and the winemakers know that if they changed the style then prices would fall because their customers would go elsewhere. So, here’s a recent article from Chasity Cooper, “When Did Malo Become a Bad Word? I think you’ll find it interesting, not too much science from me today …

“You have no idea how much I get criticized for being the only person at the restaurant table who drinks buttery Chardonnays, and considered an outcast,” a wine lover named Greg wrote to The Wall Street Journal in 2006. He may have been dining with the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd, or people who consider full-bodied Chardonnays “butter bombs” that mask any sense of place. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, of course, but Chardonnay sparks multitudes of them.” Some of the world’s most highly regarded Chardonnays from Burgundy and beyond are made with malolactic fermentation. The process creates a creamier consistency and a buttery note in wines. Read more ….

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8 replies

  1. i have never liked Chardonnay. too harsh of a flavor and a very “alcohol” taste to me

    Liked by 1 person

    • What Chardonnay have you tasted unoaked, from Chablis or Beaune or Macon. I once saw a sommelier on a cruise ask a group of ladies for their most and least favoured wines. They all hated Chardonnay. He then led a 6 wines blind tasting for them each wine being ranked by them. They had no idea about any of the wine grapes or origin. It was hilarious …. guess the horror on their faces when their top choice was revealed to be ……

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  2. Buttery and creamy definitely- but I never knew why. Like the idea of stretching the budget to Mersault, Chablis and a Macon (maybe a StAubin)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to think that reading your posts is improving my wine knowledge some

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would hope so too! Try a little test for yourself related to today’s post: Buy 3 bottles of wine, at best a Chablis/Petit Chablis, a Meursault, a Macon, all Chardonnay. The Meursault may be outside your “price comfort zone” so substitute it with anything from the Côte de Beaune also as a chardonnay. Open all 3, chilled, see if you can understand the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love that phrase « price comfort zone » Three bottles of wine will take me ages to drink, particularly white. I’ll have to wait until we have friends round for an apero then we can all take the test.

        Liked by 1 person

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