Chardonnay is Chardonnay is Chardonnay.
Or is it? Not really. You might be surprised how different Chardonnays can really be. Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted grape varietals in the world and the #1 selling wine varietal in the United States (1). The Chardonnay grape is less pungent than many other white varietals which lends itself to have a wonderful affinity to oak and the complexity derived from the barrel and the winemaker.
Often, you will hear the terms “Old World” and “New World” used when describing wine. It certainly comes up in discussions about Chardonnay since this resilient varietal is grown in many grape growing regions around the world. While some might find those terms confusing, the definition of them is actually quite simple. An ‘Old World’ wine refers to wines that are grown in the classic grape growing regions of Europe (France, Italy, Spain Germany, etc) or, basically, any country that was around during the Roman Empire. By contrast, “New World” wines are the ones that are grown everywhere else. Old World vs. New World terminology is used because it helps depict the style in which the wine was crafted. While Old World wines are generally made under tight regulations & using traditional techniques that are passed down over generations, New World wines have pushed the boundaries of what can be accomplished using technology and viticulture to expand upon the traditional methods.
The Chardonnay grape is so malleable that it can be vinified in many different styles offering a wide variety in the flavor profile of the wine. Old World wines will tend to be more lean and subtle with minerality. New World wines offer a wide variety of flavors including Oak and a vast array of upfront fruit characters.
Chardonnay is a wine that offers the wine lover a wide and varied palette of flavors to enjoy. Taste testing different styles of the wine will help you find the type of Chardonnay that best fits your personal taste preferences. Try it for yourself. You may discover a whole new world in Chardonnay.