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Beat the ABC Mindset,
 Celebrate Chardonnay wines!

A love / hate relationship 

My twisted story with Chardonnay wines started when I moved from Dijon (France) to Modesto (California) in the late 90s. My Chardonnay experience revolved around Burgundian wines and also Champagne (blanc de blanc) wines.

Please do not conclude that I am a wine snob.

I lived in these two wine producing regions and at the time, one could mostly find local wines. The selection is now more diverse, however the local wines are still very dominant on the shelves and in people cellars.

The first sip of a Californian Chardonnay was a traumatizing event: all my sensory references were challenged and I could not envision sipping oak juice for the rest of my American life (of course, not all Californian wines were overly oaky, however it was the trend at that time).

I pretty much stayed away from new world Chardonnay wines ever since and became an ABC drinker, Anything But Chardonnay. The positive side is that I discovered many white wine varieties, considering I could not sustainably sip on wines from Puligny-Montrachet or Chablis.

Beating the ABC mindset

My ABC attitude started to change when I attended the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration or i4C for the past two years. My employer was a sponsor of the event and I had the chance to attend some of the tastings.

While my preference still goes towards Burgundian styles, I realized that New World wines were far from the oak juices that triggered my ABC mindset. I fortunately live in a wine region where several winemakers have adopted the Burgundian winemaking style, so once in a while, I indulge in a wine I truly love.


This past week was marked by the international Chardonnay wines Day, celebrated on May 23; free of my prejudices, I happily celebrated this amazing grape variety. I was part of these early-riser supporters pausing at 8:00 am in a vineyard on the Beamsville Bench. 

I encourage all the ABC drinkers to open their minds: Attend the 2013 i4C in Niagara . The program promises a wonderful set of wines to taste along exciting culinary events.  I will attend this year's celebration, for sure!

Learn more and attend the 2013 International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration

Pre #ChardDay, we had a great tasting with the  Women Uncorked , the wine tasting group I belong to .

Debi had set up a very interesting tasting. We had an International and an Ontario wine flights, of five wines each. See the line up below. 

To challenge our senses, Debi gave us the list of wines and we had to match each glass with the correct wine label. Not an easy task. Nobody got 5/5 but we had a lot fun. 

I used the descriptor “oak juice” only once, for a South American wine. 

Chardonnay's sensory profiles

My wine tasting notes included the following descriptors:

  • Woody: bacon, smoky, vanilla
  • Nutty: biscuit
  • Spicy, licorice
  • Green olive
  • yeasty
  • Pencil
  • Fruity: Peach, citrus
  • Floral
  • alcoholic

You may find some definitions for these aromas in our wine aroma dictionary.

The flavor profile of Chardonnay wine is rich and diverse. We identified no less than 14 styles as listed below (Lesschaeve, Norris and Lee, 2001).

  1. Neutral with natural flavor
  2. Neutral, easy to drink, unoaked
  3. Neutral, easy to drink, with some oak
  4. Not fruity, some oxidation, ‘European style’
  5. Extra fruity
  6. Simple fruit with spicy oak
  7. Oak dominated
  8. Integrated fruit and oak, slightly sweet
  9. Barrel fermented, Burgundian style
  10. Oaky, buttery, ‘full blown’
  11. Elegant, cold climate fruit, subdued fruit
  12. Fruit driven
  13. Burgundian with balanced fruit and oak
  14. Burgundian with nutty-toasty, sulfide derived complexity

There must be one for you too. 

What is your preferred Chardonnay wine style?

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