Chardonnay is the world’s most famous white-wine grape and also one of the most widely planted. Many high-quality examples are made in California, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America.
Describing the flavors of Chardonnay is no easy task. While many Chardonnay wines have high aromatic complexity, this is usually due to winemaking techniques (particularly the use of oak) rather than the variety's intrinsic qualities. Fermentation and/or maturation with oak contributes notes of vanilla, smoke and hints of sweet spices such as clove and cinnamon. Extended lees contact while aging imparts biscuity, doughy flavors. Because of this high level of winemaker involvement, Chardonnay has become known as the "winemaker's wine". The variety itself (although often said to be relatively flavor-neutral) is responsible for most of the fruity flavors found in Chardonnay wines. These range from the tropical (banana, melon, pineapple and guava) to stonefruits (peach, nectarine and apricot), citrus and apples.