“Back then, it went through some dark moments. In California, the trend was to drench the grape’s ripe fruit in butter and spice notes by fermenting it in new oak barrels; in Burgundy, home of the most complex and long-lived wines made from chardonnay, growers were having their own issues with wines that began to oxidize after only a few years in collectors’ cellars.
“As Jon Bonné wrote in W&S’s April 2017 issue, the crisis with chardonnay in Burgundy forced growers to reconsider every aspect of their work so that today, on the whole, the wines are better than ever. In the meantime, a number of top California growers began to look to the legends of Chablis for inspiration, aiming to create lean, mineral-driven chardonnay, rather than the richer, riper wines of Montrachet or Meursault, where they originally set their stylistic guideposts. While their versions will never be the same as Chablis, by working with more neutral oak and with better farming practices, they are creating site-expressive wines.
“Chardonnay, in fact, excels at translating the details of a site. A naked version of chardonnay, whether fermented in stainless steel, older oak, ceramic eggs or glass, carries a message from the place where it grew. In the limestone and clay soils of Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault, that message is clear enough to stand up to the fermentation and aging in new French oak barrels; in the limestone soils of Chablis and the chalk of Champagne, that message is more often more delicate…”
You can read the full article in the Fall 2017 Wine & Spirits issue.