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Wine Spotlight: Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a very diverse and contradicting wine originating in the Burgundy area of eastern France and produced virtually everywhere. The Chardonnay grape itself has a neutral tone, which is why it’s such a diverse grape to use. Either it is known to lend itself to tropical fruit notes like pineapple or mango, or green plum, green apple and lemon. It’s also known as having notes of vanilla, coconut, praline, butter or pie crust. Chardonnay is also used as a component of sparkling wines and Champagne.

So, why are the flavors so different? It has everything to do with how the wine is made and where-either in oak or in steel barrels; cool or warm climates. Cool climates will draw out a noticeable acidity, and warmer climates will bring out notes of fig or banana with a softer acidity.  An oak barrel will age the grape into a vanilla, butter, coconut dream with an oily, creamy, smooth or waxy kind of fermentation.  A Chardonnay un-oaked should be served at 48 degrees Fahrenheit whereas an oaked chardonnay should be served at 54 degrees.

Vino, Wine, Virginia

Vino, Wine, Virginia

Due to its wide range in flavor, Chardonnay is easily paired with a wide variety of foods. Pair this delicious wine with Chicken or Turkey breast, pork loin, halibut, trout, cod, lobster, crab, scallops, shrimp or clams. Think white meats-these will taste the best.

As for spices, pair the wine with light, top-level spices like white pepper, shallots, parsley, and tarragon. These flavors aren’t strong, resting on the meat in an inoffensive way.  The same goes for cheese pairings. The light flavor of wine pair best with cheeses those are light in flavor such as cow’s milk and goat semi-soft cheese. Pair with zucchini, asparagus, white mushrooms, almonds, or yellow squash.


Chardonnay wine is also a great mixer for wine-based cocktails. One such cocktail, Kir, is quite popular in France and is made starting with a Black Currant Liqueur, Crème de Cassis, then topped with the wine. The French tend to have this as an aperitif, before or after a snack or small meal. Serve this at your next dinner or ask for it when out and impress your guests! The cocktail is light and slightly sweet, yet a perfect backdrop for the remaining meal. We recommend you use the Gray Ghost Chardonnay from Gray Ghost Vineyards. The Chardonnay is fermented and aged in French oak and has aromas of tropical fruit ad pear with hints of vanilla.

We will assist you in choosing the perfect wine(s) for your next tour, or in choosing the best tour for your group. Virginia wine country is robust and impossible to visit all in one tour! Tell us what you hope to experience, and we will select the perfect tour for you!

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