It's easy to see why Chardonnay is the world's most popular white wine grape. It's hugely adaptable - in hotter climes creating primary flavoured, tropical, low acid wines, and in cooler climates like ours, consistently delivering fruit full of complex flavours to create everything from crisp and linear traditional method blanc de blancs to beautifully buttery, oaky stills.
To mark international Chardonnay day on 21st May, we thought we would tell you a little more about how we grow and process Chardonnay here at Westwell.
Wherever you do it, making wine with Chardonnay always involves creating a balance between its beautiful electric lemon freshness and the buttery vanilla pastry giant that it can become. It can sit anywhere in between, so people can always find a Chardonnay for their palate.
As well as the classic Chardonnay flavours, we value Chardonnay very highly at Westwell because of the length on the palate it develops on our site. As well that mid palate of fruit, Chardonnay adds a persistence to the wines that we make: in our blends, we liken it to a luxury finish or veneer.
Chardonnay grows particularly well on the chalkier areas of our site and our more recent plantings have taken advantage of that. We have several different clones planted at Westwell, but the majority are Burgundian clones which grow well in our soil. In exceptional years, we use these clones to make a Blanc de Blancs - a traditional method sparkling wine made only with Chardonnay. We're looking forward to announcing a multi vintage Blanc De Blancs later this year which includes Chardonnay aged both in barrel and in magnum and contains fruit from 2014 onwards.
Pelegrim, our non vintage sparkling, is effectively a red fruit blend because we want those ripe red apple rich fruit-forward flavours which our pinots deliver, but it just wouldn't be the same without brilliant Chardonnay which adds essential freshness and a luxury finish to the finished bottle.