My first experience of it was hearing the phrase ‘ABC: anything but chardonnay’ some time during university. For years that was my only thought on it, until one day I realised the grape in Chablis was chardonnay. Mind, as they say, was blown.
Chardonnay is an amazing grape. One of the few that can grow across cool, moderate and hot climates. In cool regions (like Chablis), you get bright, green fruit flavours like apple and pear. In moderate locations you’ll get stone fruit and in hot climates, you’ll get tropical fruit.
Chardonnay can be played with quite a bit in winemaking process too. Some winemakers may choose a process called malolactic fermentation which brings butteriness to it. Others may leave the wine in contact with the dead yeast cells (called lees), which add creamy, savoury notes. It can be aged too, adding toasty, nutty or honey flavours to the aroma.
All in all, swearing off chardonnay is like swearing off wine altogether. Forget all your preconceptions and start tasting some chardonnay. Look out for Chablis, Burgundy (FR), Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Margaret River (AUS), Casablanca Valley (Chile), Sonoma, Russian River (California) and Walker Bay (South Africa).