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Chardonnay

The main white grape of Burgundy has become ubiquitous in the wine world, and remains one of the most popular of the "international" grape varieties. Planted all over the globe, from the most southerly regions of New Zealand to Québec's Eastern Townships, the Chardonnay grape itself is relatively neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the grape being derived more from the specific climate and geology or the vinification and aging methods than from any intrinsic aromatic components. In fact, the notes of butter and vanilla, so often associated with chardonnay, are actually derived from oak and a process called malolactic fermentation, rather than from the grape itself. With such a transparent character, it shouldn't be a surprise to see it vinified in many different styles, from the elegant, "flinty" wines of Chablis to rich, buttery Meursaults and New World wines with tropical fruit flavors. Chardonnay is also an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne.