RJS Craft Winemaking

A sample of two blogs originally published on the RJS Craft Winemaking Craft & Cork blog.

Why Do Craft Winemakers Love Chardonnay?

Throughout the years we have seen the popularity of different wines rise quickly, and then eventually drop as another variety takes their places in wine cellars around the world. For example, back in the 1990s restaurants and wine stores couldn’t keep

Merlot in stock. Then, in 2004 the movie “Sideways” was released and before long, Pinot Noir was the red wine of choice. In the world of white wine, nowadays Pinot Grigio is a rock star with more craft winemakers making Pinot Grigio than any other winered or white.

But one varietal that has remained popular, throughout all these fads, is the tenacious Chardonnay. Like your favourite pair of jeans, it might not be the wine you pull out to impress your fad following friends, but it is the wine you go to when you crave something tried, true and sure to satisfy. Depending on the style, a glass of Chardonnay will taste as delicious on a chilly night near a warm fire as it will on a hot day in a lounge chair on a dock. Chardonnay is the comfort food of wine.

The Chardonnay grape originated in the cool climate wine region of Burgundy in eastern France, where it is still renowned as the only grape used to make such wines as Chablis and Pouilly-Fuissé. But because Chardonnay is so beloved by winemakers and wine drinkers around the world, it is now grown wherever wine is produced. Vine-growers appreciate that, in almost any climate suitable for viticulture, Chardonnay will grow fairly easily with relatively high yields. If fact, it is one of the most widely planted grape varieties worldwide, planted in more wine regions than any other grapeincluding Cabernet Sauvignon.

The flavours found in Chardonnay grapes themselves are actually fairly neutral and highly dependent upon the climate where they are grown. In cool regions Chardonnay tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of citrus, green apple, and pear. In warmer areas, the flavours become riper with more stone fruits like, peach or nectarine, and melon. In the very warmest locations, tropical fruit notes, like banana and mango, are found on the nose and palate.

Winemakers also love Chardonnay for its versatility. From still to sparkling, dry to sweet, it lends itself well to numerous styles of wine. No one doubts Chardonnay’s ability to make great sparkling wines considering it is the most common grape found in Champagne. Chardonnay also makes some of the world’s most outstanding light bodied, crisp still wines to rival the best Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Grigios. But, whereas these other two varieties may not always stand up well to oak, a well-crafted, full-bodied, toasty Chardonnay aged in oak, is nothing short of a triumph, boasting flavours of smoke, spice, coconut, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla.

Chardonnay has achieved its status as the world’s favourite grape (and wine) for a reason. In her book “Vines, Grapes and Wines”, Jancis Robinson said “In Chardonnay is one of the happiest of all combinations: the grower loves to grow it, the wine maker loves to fashion it and we all love to drink it.” And that is why Chardonnay is sure to maintain its high esteem amongst craft winemakers for years to come.

Beyond Pinot Grigio: Summer White Wine Ideas

The summer of 2017 is in full swing. Sunny days mean shorelines are packed with colourful umbrellas as we all turn into beach bums soaking up the rays. Grilling has become a daily routine as we scarf down hot dogs, burgers and kebabs and afternoons spent on the patio have resulted in thousands of craft winemakers everywhere suddenly realizing the thirty bottles of Pinot Grigio made to last throughout the summer won’t even make it to the end of July.

If you are running out of Pinot Grigio, why not make another white to take you past the dog days of summer and into the Labour Day festivities? Pinot Grigio is best known as a light, refreshing Italian white, crisp and round with citrus fruit and stone fruit flavours. Below are three recommendations from our tasting team for fruity and quaffable summer wines as an alternative, or as an addition to your favourite Pinot Grigio.

Sauvignon Blanc

Fans of Pinot Grigio, looking for a change, might want to consider trying Sauvignon Blanc.

Both wines pair well with light dishes, like salad and seafood, and both make a refreshing aperitif in warm weather. While both are also dry and crisp, their flavours and aromas can be quite different. Sauvignon Blanc tends to be slightly more acidic, and is best known for its grassy, green pepper, and herb-like aromas and flavours. Like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc features citrus notes but instead of lemon, it will have hints of lime and grapefruit.


If you drink Pinot Grigio because you enjoy a wine that is fruity and high in acid, why not consider trying Riesling for a change? Wine drinkers often think of Riesling as a sweet or off-dry wineand many great Rieslings are made in those styles. However, nowadays more winemakers are making their Rieslings bone dry, to fabulous results. To achieve this style, leave out the sweetening blend, or only add in a portion. Well-made examples of Riesling are exceptionally aromatic and fruity, with flowery, almost perfumed aromas and flavours of orchard fruits like nectarine, apricot, honey-crisp apple, and pear.


Pinot Grigio drinkers can be reluctant to make Chardonnay as it is often associated with oak. However, like Pinot Grigio, excellent examples of Chardonnay are often made without any oak! Whether you are making it at a winemaking retailer or at home, for an unoaked style, just leave out the oak addition. The result will be a light, dry and refreshing wine with flavours that will depend on where the grapes originated. Chardonnays from warmer climates like Australia will have tropical notes such as melon, but still retain the citrus notes found in Pinot Grigio. Chardonnays from cooler climates will have more green fruit characteristics, like green apple and pear.

With these three summer wine ideas, get yourself to a craft winemaking store and put on a new batch of wine so it is ready long before the leaves start turning. For those craft winemakers who can’t imagine a cellar without Pinot Grigio, why not put on two or three batches? Before long you will realize there is a whole world of wine to discover beyond your usual favourite.