A recent DNA test conducted at UC Davis, California, concluded that Chardonnay is the result of a cross between Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Gouais Blanc. Gouais Blanc is an ancient Roman variety that has almost disappeared (some plantings exist in Germany), but it is considered the "casanova" of the varieties since it is involved in the creation of many others! Experts are not sure when or where the crossing took place. It's probably happened centuries ago. It is very likely that the Romans planted Gouais Blanc on French territory in areas where Pinot Noir was planted. From that point onwards, nature did its job.
It is therefore known that the variety is very susceptible to genetic mutations, so over 400 clones have emerged. The most frequently planted clone in 1970 was the clone "Wente" (UCD 2A) and later, clone 108. In the 1990s, in California, winegrowers began to pay more attention to matching the right clones with specific microclimates and areas of vineyards. In many new vineyards and particularly in colder areas, clones "Dijon" and "Espiguette" are the most popular.
In the glass the color varies depending on the area and the vinification from pale greenish to deep gold! The aromatic bouquet includes citrus and green fruits (cold climates), ripe stone fruits, mango, pineapple and banana (warmer climates). With the maturation in oak barrel it gets more full body and rich aromas of butter and nuts. It has an acidity ranging from medium to high depending on climate and style.
If they asked me what white variety I would choose to drink, if I had to choose only one, it would definitely be Chardonnay! And the reason is that it gives so different styles of wine that I would never get bored! In the Chablis area of France, it is the only variety that is allowed, and it gives wines with crisp acidity, citrus and green apple aromas and with a strong mineral character due to its particular soil and climate. In Meursault, Chardonnay has a richer, riper style with oaky character. Of course, we can not miss the Campania region where, alone or in combination with Pinot Noir and Pinot Menieur, it offers sparkling wines of exceptional finesse, the famous Champagnes: wines with sharp acidity and hazelnuts and biscuits! The Californian Chardonnay have an intense oaky character, ripe fruit and fuller body.
Combination with food
Chardonnay can evolve into a real chameleon and can be paired with almost everything. In fresh and "sharper" versions, it can accompany salads, ceviche, marinated sea bass, vitello tonnato, carpaccio of any kind, even chicken chops with lemon sauces!
In the richest and cooler versions, it fits perfectly with risotto, cheese dishes such as cheese soufflé, tarts and spaghetti cacio e pepe, pasta with white sauces, smoked hams and trout.
Finally, Champagne can stand right next to everything. If you want to start with an unforgettable combination pair it with lemon drizzled oysters!
Do not hesitate to experiment, try different styles and you will be surprised!