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19. GRAPE VARIETIES Number 7: Chardonnay Part Two


  In its homeland of Burgundy, you will meet it crisp, mineral and unoaked in Chablis, fermented and matured in tank; going south, minor Bourgone Blancs in the Côte d'Or (Beaune and surrounding area) will usually be matured in old oak, showing no influence on the taste, though more expensive examples will have been put into younger, even new, oak barrels; grander wines from named villages in the same area such as Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet will almost always be fermented and matured in oak barrels, but will be made in a wide variety of styles from searingly dry and mineral (not showing much oak influence) to broad, rich, weighty with noticeable oak flavours - it is here that the greatest white burgundies are produced, and they will age for decades, requiring at least ten years of cellaring before they start to show their full potential – the best will display a majesty and power, and yet at the same time a delicacy and beauty that is unimaginable until you have tasted an example; continuing south, the Côte Chalonnaise produces some fine, though less concentrated, Chardonnays from villages such as Rully, Givry and Mercurey, with Rully being a particularly good source; further south still there is the Mâconnais, which produces a looser-knit style, sometimes with some weight to the wines, and here you will find the superior enclave of Pouilly-Fuissé, an appellation made up of five villages – Fuissé, Solutré, Pouilly, Vergisson and Chaintré.


 It is also to be found all over the rest of the world – in particular, Australia adopted it and made a rich, heavily oaked style displaying lots of  tropical fruit flavours that took drinkers by storm for a while, though now people are tiring of all that weight and it is losing out to the lighter charms of Sauvignon Blanc.