All This Time, I've Been Saying that I Don't Like Chardonnay

Posted by Benita Johnson on 1st Aug 2014

How can one grape taste so doggone different? Well let me just tell you about my evolution. I remember years ago when I started this life long lesson into wine, I couldn't stand Chardonnay. My first experience was one that was over done in American Oak, giving me the mouthful of butter, making me long for a piece of toasted bread. I remember it coating my tongue and making it very difficult to taste the next wine in the tasting order. I remember the brand (but I won't say the name...but you wine folks will know it because it was the hottest brand selling back in the early 2000's). After that, I swore off Chardonnay. As I continued to countless tastings, I would always skip the popular white wine. I frequented the same wine shop every Friday so the owner got to know me quite well. She noticed one day at a wine dinner that I always avoided Chards when she offered them. Finally, she asked why. At the dinner, she had a Chardonnay that she explained had been fermented in stainless steel. My first thought was why would it matter. Pleasantly surprised, this time I recognized more green apple and that it was quite a bit more acidic than the Chardonnays that I had come to know. Okay, so I like steel fermented Chardonnays. A few weeks later, I asked my server at a restaurant if the Chardonnay that I was about to select was oak or steel fermented. He told me that it was French Oak. I guess that befuddled look on my face told a story that I had no clue what that meant. Fortunately, he read me and offered me a taste before I made the commitment of buying a glass. He explained that the French Oak wouldn't impart the buttery notes that the American Oak would. What I found for myself was that I still got the green apple but it was softer. The wine felt almost round in my mouth. Hmmm, I liked this French Oak fermented Chardonnay. Up until this point, almost all of the Chardonnay that I had tasted had come from California. So imagine my surprise when I realized that this white wine that I was drinking from France was called Burgundy, and it was Chardonnay. Wait a minute! Everything that I knew (which wasn't much apparently) about burgundy was that it was a color in the red family so of course a Burgundy has to be red. I had no clue that Burgundy was a region that produced some of the best grown Chardonnay in the world. These white grapes from Burgundy, fermented in French oak changed my mind. I love Chardonnay! I had to share my experience through a wine class where I only featured Chardonnay just to show my friends who were still novices at the time that the process makes the difference. And all this time that I've been saying that I don't like Chardonnay....clueless!

Hit us up on Facebook at The Vine Wine Club if you're interested in a Chardonnay Tasting Tour Class. Follow my evolution with friends!