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Chardonany, love or hate it? Celebrate England’s favourite grape

World Chardonnay Day 2023 is the 25th of May – which is cause for celebration for some, and despair for others. But what makes some people love Chardonnay, and others loathe it. And why is that important for English Wine?

A Blank Canvas

“For me, Chardonnay is the ultimate blank canvas. We can make wines of superb complexity and depth, or wines with a real zesty freshness. And as the basis for fizz, it’s unparalleled” explains our Winemaker Fergus Elias.

Chardonnay is loved by winemakers around the world for its versatility. From the bone-dry, fresh and acidic styles of Chablis, to the rich, butterscotch variants often found in the New World.

It’s a grape which takes on the character of its surroundings. Hotter, more sun-filled regions tend to produce more tropical and heavy styles, whilst the green-apple laden, citrus varieties of cool-climates are loved for their elegance and restraint.

 

Then, of course, there’s the use of oak. Finding the right balance here is key.

 

Ideal for England?

Chardonnay has seen a huge growth in plantings across England over recent years. It now accounts for over 60% off all our vines – as more and more producers look to the grape for its versatility and excellence as a sparkling wine component.

Warmer summers have allowed for this switch to take place, as has the growth of more technical skill in English vineyards (not least the brilliant work Cathy and our team at Balfour do to produce this ‘noble’ variety).

Yet still, in England chardonnay often has more of the citrus, fresh green apple character of cooler climate regions. Oak is often used sparingly to complement and support, rather than overpower, these delicate characteristics.

 

Which to try?

The joy of chardonnay is that, by and large, there’s a style for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

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