06 Jul, 2020

Chardonnay is the definitive dry white wine loved by aficionados and casual sippers alike. It’s served up at weddings and on weeknights; in country pubs and five-star establishments, so there are few surprises when Chardonnay is ranked as one of the UK’s favourite wines time and time again.

Behind the medium-bodied veneer, this wine has a rich history and diverse flavour profile. These characteristics affect the best serving temperatures and food pairing combinations – so these are details worth knowing before you pour a glass of this bold and rich wine.

From vine to barrel and then to glass, here’s our guide to the iconic white grape – Chardonnay.


What is Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is a type of white wine which comes from the green-skinned grape of the same name. It is famously dry, but one of the many reasons Chardonnay is loved by winemakers is because it’s very versatile and the winemaking options are wide and can result it many different styles. Chardonnay can be oaked or un-oaked during the aging process.


Where is Chardonnay from?

Chardonnay originates from the Burgundy region of France – most likely the village of Chardonnay in the 13th century.

Until recent decades, even winemakers themselves weren’t sure how the very first Chardonnay grapes came to grow. Research from the University of California at Davis has since revealed Chardonnay comes from the much older Gouais Blanc grape, which is almost extinct today. Chardonnay is also a distant cousin of Pinot.

From Burgundy, the delights of Chardonnay spread across France and eventually the globe. Chardonnay grapes now grow in every territory where wine is produced.

Dark Horse Chardonnay benefits from the exquisite effects of a Californian climate – the bright Golden State sun brings out the glorious notes of tropical fruit.

Since Dark Horse winemaker Beth Liston selects grapes from a range of Californian locations, she is able to use traditional techniques to create a Chardonnay that is packed full of flavour and exceptionally balanced.


The Chardonnay taste

Chardonnay typically has a dry taste and can range from light to full-bodied. Chardonnay often bears vanilla notes – and sometimes, there is a rich, woody undertone which imparts a range of complex flavours on the wine. These aromas are created as the wine ferments or ages in oak barrels. The result can be either earthy or luxuriously rich, depending on it’s origin– Californian Chardonnay tends towards the latter.

In contrast, unoaked Chardonnay tastes fresh and crisp. It is often fruitier, bringing together hints of citrus, apple and even mango. Sometimes, unoaked Chardonnay can also be floral, bearing subtle scents of white flowers and citrus peel.

Some Chardonnay’s can take on a more buttery, creamier texture. To bring out these textures and aromas, after the fermentation process the lees (remnants of the yeast) are not removed straight away. These lees are sometimes stirred through the wine and they create smooth, buttery notes.

Dark Horse Chardonnay boasts both a light sweetness of juicy, stone fruit notes and deep, toasty aromas of oak and vanilla. Dark Horse Chardonnay also shows off divine, buttery notes mentioned above with a smooth finish.


Is Chardonnay sweet?

Chardonnay is noted for its exceptionally dry taste, so this type of wine is not usually sweet, although this does vary with different winemakers. However it can give the impression of some sweetness due to the oak influence, the body and the fruity / dessert like notes conjured by the winemaking process.


Dark Horse Chardonnay characteristics

Dark Horse Chardonnay is exceptionally well-balanced since it plucks grapes from the most fruit-forward of vineyards and ages them with both French and American oak. French oak gives toastier, cedar notes while American oak gives vanilla and coconut notes. The result is a smooth, medium-bodied, golden wine which is underpinned by hints of peach, pear and baked apple. Our Chardonnay has caramel undertones and a luxuriously buttery finish.


Chardonnay food pairings

Chardonnay is a wine for every occasion, so you might expect it to work with every recipe, but there are a few rules to consider before you pour.

Chardonnay is a wine defined by its subtleties – remember, the magic comes from the art of winemaking rather than the grapes themselves. As a result, it’s easy for Chardonnay to be overpowered by intense or pungent flavours – so bitter vegetables, acidic olives and overly spiced food is generally off the cards.

Creamy dishes, on the other hand, dance harmoniously with a glass of Dark Horse Chardonnay. Think mushroom risotto, mild coconut curry or truffle pasta and sticky barbecue ribs. Anything subtly sweet, such as sweet potato or butternut squash, is great for enhancing that barely-there impression of sweetness Chardonnay is known for.

Thanks to its heady mix of oaked richness and fruity zest, Dark Horse Chardonnay fares comparatively well when paired with strong flavours, such as creamy curries. Grilled halloumi is another combination we adore.

Chardonnay can also transform cheese platter dinners into luxe encounters, especially when a mild, creamy goat’s cheese takes centre stage. Room for dessert? Of course you have. Apple pie is the perfect fit when you’re drinking Chardonnay.


Chardonnay serving temperature

Like many white wines, Chardonnay is best served cool – but be careful, that doesn’t mean cold. If you’re planning to create the perfect food and wine pairing, serving Chardonnay at the correct temperature is even more important, since the temperature of wine can affect how it interacts with flavour.

The optimum serving temperature for Dark Horse Chardonnay is 10°C. Fridge temperatures hover between 3°C and 5°C, so the easiest way to achieve the perfect serving temperature is to chill Chardonnay in the fridge for about an hour, then remove the bottle at least ten minutes before serving.

From vine to glass, Dark Horse Chardonnay is an exquisite wine which carries its own branch of complexity. It’s no wonder this wine rack staple has come to dominate the wine-loving world – after all, its sensational blend of fruit notes and dryness can cast a spell over summer barbeques, autumnal dinner parties and every occasion in between.

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