Loved by both wine drinkers and winemakers, Chardonnay has few competitors for the title of world's finest white grape.
Chardonnay sprang to fame in France, but has traveled successfully to almost every corner of the wine world. Those who base their opinions of this noble grape on bland, cheap, off-dry versions from the New World are doing it a serious disservice.
Almost anywhere grapes are grown and wine is made, chances are you'll find some Chardonnay. This versatile variety produces a broad range of wines to suit all palates and pockets.
Chardonnay hails from France, where it is responsible for Chablis, Meursault, Pouilly-Fuissé and other white Burgundies, and is also a major grape for Champagne. Given such role models, it's no surprise that it has been planted widely in dozens of other countries. Early imitations from the United States and Australia sacrificed the subtlety of the French originals for out-and-out power, with bold tropical fruit flavors, high levels of alcohol and a surfeit of toasty oak. Thankfully such styles have given way to more thoughtful wines, still full of flavor, but much less in-yer-face. Burgundy is still the place to emulate, but it no longer has the monopoly on great Chardonnay.