Chardonnay wine and Chardonnay Champagne may seem similar, key differences can help wine lovers distinguish between the two. Champagne is a sparkling wine that has been fermented with yeast. Chardonnay grapes are grown in France especially in the wine regions of Champagne and Burgundy where the grape thrives. But the big question remains is chardonnay champagne?
Chardonnay and Chardonnay Champagne have in common that they`re made from Chardonnay grapes. The difference between these wines is that the grapes which are used to make Champagne and Chardonnay wine grow in separate regions of France. The wines are made by the similar methods. To make Champagne the Chardonnay wine must be produced in the Champagne region using grapes which grow there. The wine is submitted to a second fermentation to generate carbon dioxide.
Chardonnay and Champagne are similar but different! Read on to find out more.
What Is Champagne?
Not all sparkling wines are made by the same method. The key difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines is that Champagne is made by the “méthode champenoise”. To make Champagne the Chardonnay wine must be produced in the Champagne region using grapes which grow there. The wine is submitted to a second fermentation to generate carbon dioxide in the Champagne bottle.
Chardonnay wine from other regions is often used to make sparkling wine by the Charmat method. This is a very cost-effective isobaric production method where the carbon dioxide is generated by fermentation in large steel tanks. In the final step the sparkling wine is bottled.
Chardonnay wine is the main wine which is used for champagne. Due to the versatile flavors of Chardonnay it`s the perfect basis for either crisp citrus fruit flavored or round buttery brioche flavored Champagne.
Crisp citrus fruit Chardonnay Champagne
To get a crisp Champagne with citrus notes the Chardonnay grapes are crushed and the juice is separated from the skins. The grape juice is fermented at low, controlled temperatures. This way the malic acid gives an acidic green apple, citrus fruit like taste to the wine.
Buttery brioche flavored Chardonnay Champagne
Round, buttery flavors are realized by fermenting the Chardonnay by malolactic fermentation. The grape juice and skins are kept together for up to 24 h under a carbon dioxide atmosphere for the malolactic fermentation. Lactic acid bacteria which are on the grape’s skins initiate the malolactic fermentation. Malic acid is converted into lactic acid and “diacetyl” as a side product. “Diacetyl” is responsible for the buttery taste.
Regardless the fermentation which is applied for the basic Chardonnay wine to be turned into champagne it`s often used for Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
The Difference Between Chardonnay Wine and Champagne
Chardonnay wines and Champagne are similar in the first fermentation step where the primary aroma develops. If desired the crisp, chalky citrus fruit aroma of Chardonnay can be submitted to malolactic fermentation to reduce the acidity.
Theses secondary aroma form in a further step where malolactic fermentation generates round buttery flavors with tropical fruit notes. Oak notes can be introduced in this step if the wine is stored in oak barrels.
So far Champagne and Chardonnay are similar. The difference between the two is in the next step. A liquor containing yeast, the original wine or sugar is added to the Chardonnay Champagne. Over the next 12 to 24 months carbon dioxide is generated in the bottle. The remaining yeast is removed, original wine is added, and the champagne bottle is re-corked.
The resulting Champagne and Chardonnay wines differ in alcohol and sugar content. Zero dosage or brut Champagne has a lower sugar content than the corresponding Chardonnay wines as the sugar is converted into carbon dioxide. The alcohol content in Chardonnay wines is also higher than in the corresponding Chardonnay Champagne. The sugar in the Chardonnay wine is converted into alcohol whereas it`s turned into carbon dioxide for the Chardonnay champagne.
How Do Chardonnay and Champagne Differ in Taste?
Chardonnay wine differs from Chardonnay Champagne or Chardonnay sparkling wines in taste. It has a higher alcohol content and is sweeter due to residual sugar. Alcohol and sugar are aroma carriers therefore Chardonnay wine will be more aromatic than the corresponding sparkling wines or champagne. The fruity or buttery flavors in both Chardonnay and Chardonnay Champagne will be similar but stronger in the Chardonnay wine.
How Do Champagne and Chardonnay Compare in Sweetness?
Chardonnay wine and Chardonnay Champagne or sparkling wine are made using similar grapes and wines. Due to the secondary fermentation in Chardonnay Champagne or sparkling wine the residual sugar is converted into carbon dioxide. Therefore, Chardonnay Champagne is less sweet than the corresponding Chardonnay wine.
The driest (least sweet) Chardonnay Champagnes are “zero dosage” champagnes where no sugar liquor was added before the secondary fermentation. A bottle of “zero dosage” Chardonnay Champagne contains the same quantity of calories as a 100 g bar of chocolate.
Pro Tips for Buying and Drinking Chardonnay Champagne
When buying Chardonnay Champagne, keep in mind that it`s coming from the Champagne region and it may be expensive due to the limited offer. If you like Chardonnay based sparkling wines Cremant or sparkling wine from Alsace, the Loire region or Burgundy can be a more convenient alternative. In these regions the grapes grow on chalky soil. Due to the described fermentation methods aroma like Chardonnay Champagne can be achieved at a lower price.
It is a wine from one specific region in France, it is likely from another region than Chardonnay. This means that both types of Champagne can be found in particular regions of France.
When drinking Champagne, keep in mind that it is often enjoyed with savory dishes that feature-rich and fatty foods. This type of wine is often best enjoyed with dishes such as salami, prosciutto, fish, or steaks.
Finally, when it comes to serving Champagne, it is best to remember that one can serve it chilled. This means that it is best to keep Champagne in the refrigerator once opened.
When choosing which type of drink to purchase, both Chardonnay and Champagne are popular choices. The only difference between the two is the production method, which makes a difference in the taste of the wine. The aroma in Chardonnay wine is stronger than in the corresponding Champagne. They`re also sweeter and have a higher alcohol content.
In case you`re looking for a cheaper alternative to Chardonnay Champagne take Chardonnay Cremant or sparkling wine from other regions in France or around the world.