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Chardonnay is a tremendously popular wine and the biggest-selling white varietal in the world. Because of its popularity and adaptability it is grown extensively in many countries including the United States, Canada, France, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia.
Because the grape takes so well to many climates, different styles emerge. Steely, mineral-inflected examples from Chablis in the Burgundy region of France sharply contrast the rich, buttery barrel-aged Chardonnays found in Napa Valley, California. The lighter, cooler-climate wines or those that are unencumbered by oak aging tend to have crisp flavors of citrus, stone fruit, apple and pear. Chardonnay from warmer climates or that have extended time aging in oak barrels, lean toward the tropical or exotic fruit side of the spectrum and can have overtones of butterscotch, caramel, coconut or vanilla. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and many wines can be found that are quite balanced between styles.
Chardonnay pairs quite well with seafood such as lobster, but also with many white meats such as pork and poultry. Rich, full-bodied examples of Chardonnay can even tread where red wines would be considered the norm.
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