Early season Chardonnay
Early season Chardonnay grapes.

For those who love it, is every day Chardonnay Day?

Chardonnay is the “big boy” of white wine vinifera.

Each year, the Thursday before Memorial Day is when Chardonnay wine lovers celebrate the most popular and most-planted grape (96,819 acres) in California. Most California wineries produce wines from this varietal that are outstanding, rich, and elegant.

Flora Springs’ varietal is a great example: It tempts with pale straw in the glass, beckoning with aromas of lemon rind, juicy apple, and warm almonds. Bright flavors of honeydew melon, guava, and pineapple linger in a hint of honey finish. Pour this with grilled sand dabs and avocado and chicken salad.

Or, reward your accomplishments with a bottle or two of Jon Nathaniel Chardonnay (from vines that produce low yields of concentrated fruit.) This varietal seduces with layers of honey, vanilla, spice, and pear. Wait a moment for Act 11, as Granny Smith apple, and toasty oak flavors emerge.

The noble grape deserves recognition for its long and revered history. Chardonnay is the “big boy” of white wine vinifera. Originally from Burgundy, where there is a village that bears the same name, it is now grown extensively worldwide, and is an important grape in the production of Champagne.

In the past, Chardonnay was often mistakenly labeled as Pinot Blanc. Recent evidence has shown that although the two grapes do share similar characteristics and are often planted next to one another, they are only distant cousins.

Whether buttery, with notes and aromas of fruit, or dry and acidic, Chardonnay wines are bold, silky, and delightful, finishing with a clean, dry bite.

The wine is very versatile with any poultry or freshwater fish. On a hot day, a very cold Chardonnay served with a plate of figs and a salty hard cheese is a perfect ending to the day.

Adam Centamore. in his book, “Tasting Wine and Cheese,” says Chardonnay, more than any other grape, is influenced by the terrior in which it is grown. “Unoaked Chardonnay is quite flexible with cheeses. Fresh goat cheese is perfect if the sipper prefers to complement the minerality and citrusy flavors of the wine. This chalky, tangy cheese was a favorite with Napoleon. For a contrast pairing, enjoy this crisp, zippy style of Chardonnay with a simple double-cream cow’s milk cheese.”

Mark Feinberg, with Balzac Communications, says he spent Chardonnay Day this year “on the back deck, with the dogs lazing in the sun, while I enjoyed a nice Arroyo Seco Chardonnay from Austerity, complemented with some nice triple cream brie and Valley Lavosh crackers. It was very stressful — but someone had to do it !”

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