Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Chardonnay, a name so familiar to wine lovers around the world that many do not realize that it is the name of a white grape variety. In its Burgundian homeland, Chardonnay has for long been the sole vine responsible for all of the finest white burgundy. As such, in a region devoted to geographical labelling, its name was known only to vine-growers. All this changed with the advent of varietal labelling in the late 20th century, when Chardonnay virtually became a brand. It is perhaps fitting that a variety so governed by the whims of fashion should have seen considerable stylistic changes in the sorts of wine sought by its legion of fans. Until the mid 1990s, rich, oaky varietals were the height of modishness but this has been followed by a trend towards leaner, more appetizing, and definitely less oak-dominated Chardonnays.