An Onshore Cellars Special


Chardonnay is a white grape variety that is praised for its ability to produce outstanding-quality wines in cool, moderate and warm climates. No grape is more versatile than Chardonnay, being able to produce aromas from fresh green apple, lemon and pear to tropical fruit aromas like pineapple, peach and banana. But that's not all! Chardonnay is also the perfect blank canvas for producers to show technique and skill, developing complex aroma's that complement eachother, resulting in true masterpieces.

Common Misconceptions 

 Let’s start by addressing a common misconception about Chardonnay, sadly one of the most misunderstood of all white wines. For many people, Chardonnay is seen as “boring”, “standard easy-drinking plonk” with nothing special going on. Perfect for a party but not interesting for anyone looking to challenge the old taste buds. Well, to whoever thinks that: Sorry, but you couldn’t be more wrong. How can Chardonnay be boring when it’s one of three key grapes of the most desirable drink on the earth: Champagne! 

The truth is, Chardonnay is like an artist’s blank canvas, it allows every winemaker the opportunity to paint their very own masterpiece, showcasing their technique, their style and the characteristics of the grapes' terroir.  It should be the starting point of something special rather than a simple mass-produced wine. So let’s get into some outstanding Chardonnay regions and techniques used to create true masterpieces.

Taste Profiles

Favours and aromas found in Chardonnay are many and varied. Thanks in no small part to the climate in which the grapes are grown. This diversity of flavour is also matched by the climate’s influence on the degree of alcohol and acidity levels of Chardonnay.

Cool Climate. 

Great cool climate Chardonnays are produced in Burgundy (France), Marlborough (New Zealand) and cooler northwest states in the US, Washington, Oregon and parts of California. In cooler climates, grapes have a slower ripening period so Chardonnays tend to develop aromas of blossom and acidic fruit flavours like green apple and lemon.

Northern Burgundy (Chablis)

Some of the most outstanding Chardonnays of Chablis are labelled Premier Cru or Grand Cru. Meaning they come from the best vineyards, typically situated on the south-east facing hillsides and so increasing the sunlight exposure. Leading to richer, more complex flavours.

Some of the most outstanding Chardonnays of Chablis are labelled Premier Cru or Grand Cru. Meaning they come from the best vineyards, typically situated on the south-east facing hillsides and so increasing the sunlight exposure. Leading to richer, more complex flavours.

Côte de Beaune   

This is the heart of Burgundy or Bourgogne as the French would say. Some of the most prestigious highly sought after and in our opinion, best Chardonnays in the world come from the Côte de Beaune. It’s a little further south than Chablis, so the wines

Puligny Montrachet, Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet are household names but a bottle of the best of the best wine in the Côte de Beaune, Le Montrachet, will be a will be something to behold as well as set you back a small fortune.

Côte de Beaune producers often add complexity to the wine by fermenting and/or maturing the wines in oak barrels and aging them in contact with lees (a byproduct of fermentation). Allowing for deep complex flavours like hazelnut or mushroom to develop, resulting in some of the most sought after wines in the world.

warm climate.

Chardonnay grown in a warm climate develops opulent tropical fruit flavours and aromas, like ripe pineapple, peach and banana. Quality examples of warm-climate Chardonnay come from Sonoma in California, Stellenbosch in South Africa and the Margaret River in Australia.


The warm climate allows Chardonnay grapes to develop ripe aromas of tropical fruit like pineapple and peach. Chardonnay is very widely planted in California and 

usually oaked to some degree, but the exceptional wines are to be found in the coastal areas. Cooling breezes off the ocean slow down the ripening process, enhancing flavours, adding complexity whilst still maintaining a fresh acidity, resulting in extremely well-balanced wines. Some of the most sought after wines are produced in the Sonoma and the Napa Valley, where the distinctive aromas of tropical fruit are complemented by vanilla and spice flavours coming from fresh oak.

Western Australia 

 The Margret River region in Western Australia produces smaller quantities than other parts of Australia, but the quality is consistently very high. Thanks to a warm climate with cool sea breezes, Chardonnay ripens slowly and develops wines that are full in body with aroma's of ripe peach and tropical fruit.

winemaking techniqures.

Lees stirring (Battonage) 

Lees are a byproduct of fermentation and can give a wine extra depth and richness. After fermentation has finished the yeast dies and becomes lees. Winemakers often then choose to ‘stir the lees’ regularly when aging the wine, allowing for wonderful secondary aroma’s of bread, butter, nuts or caramel to develop.  Depending on the wine, lees aging can occur for as little as 3–4 months or as long as several years. Some producers of white wines may also stir the lees to increase the lees contact’s surface area and thus the extraction.

Oak Ageing

Oak ageing Ageing wine in oak dates back to the Roman Empire. As the Empire expanded the Romans took food and weapons with them, but also wine (thankfully).  In the beginning, different types of wood were used when making barrels, but they soon discovered that oak was adding exciting new flavours to the wine, laying the foundation for the many different styles of modern-day oak aging. In white wines, particularly Chardonnay, American oak can come across as popcorn and toffee, while French oak results in gentle nuttiness and slight smoke. The affinity between oak and Chardonnay is so great that oak flavour characteristics are often taken as a marker for the grape itself.

Chardonnay day - Live tasting with peter bedding

Are you looking to 

For the special occasion of Chardonnay Day 2021 we are hosting a live tasting with some of our favourite varieties of Chardonnay. Our experts have selected 3 outstanding wines from different parts of the world and produced with different teqniques, for you to try during a live tasting on Thursday the 20th of May (the evening before Chardonnay Day). 

Get your Chardonnay Day Tasting Pack Today, with 10% Discount!

We look forward to seeing you,

The Onshore Cellars Team

Chardonnay Day - Online Tasting with Peter Bedding
"If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life, it would be Chardonnay"  - Peter Bedding

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