A McBride Guide to Chardonnay
The Perfect Summer Wine
The wine of the summer! Chardonnay is made in some of the world's most iconic winegrowing regions and is one of the most popular and loved white wines. For us, this grape varietal gives us the opportunity to break the rules of fine winemaking. Chardonnay can be medium-full bodied, cool or warm climate, unoaked or rich in oak. The winemaker can cultivate and create the style that they love, for us, we love a cooler climate Chardonnay with light to minimal oak because we want the varietal characteristics to shine through.
Our McBride Sisters Collection Central Coast Chardonnay 2019 is a wine we cannot live without. It’s a crowd pleaser at all of our events and one of our favorite wines to sip with a summer cheeseboard. This is not your gramma's Chardonnay. Drinks well with salmon garnished with fresh dill, Alfredo pasta with spring peas, or grilled portobello mushrooms. It’s not only a seasonal wine, you’ll find our glasses filled with Chardonnay all year round.
This white wine is the perfect match for fresh seafood, buttery chicken, and caramelized vegetable dishes. A wine we love, always have in our wine rack and part of the story of Robin’s journey into winemaking. Celebrate this wonderful wine with us as we delve into the history, pairing suggestions, and recipes for Chardonnay.
We recently released our new McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2019. This wine, called The Great Escape is very special to us and comes from one of the most incredible winegrowing regions in California. The Santa Lucia Highlands are located in Monterey County, California and given the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, unique topography and California sunshine, you're left with what we think are some of the best vineyards in the world. The Great Escape embodies our love for the Chardonnay grape, the beauty of Monterey County and the childhood memories that have brought us to winemaking.
Learn more about the story behind the name and label on our website here.
“When I was a baby, my mom drove our bright red Volkswagen bug up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to a small town called Monterey. This is where I fell in love with vineyards and winemaking.” - Robin McBride
The Chardonnay Grape
The world’s most popular white wine originated in the Burgundy region of France, with the earliest reference to the wine dating back to 1330. It wasn’t until the 18th century that Chardonnay was introduced to California by Spanish missionaries who planted the first vineyards in Alta California. The popularity of the light green grape grew rapidly over time, now being responsible for over 93,148 acres of vineyards, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual 2018 report.
A rich, buttery flavor is what comes to the majority of people’s minds when they hear “California Chardonnay.” But that’s because that style of California Chardonnay become widely produced and popular until more recently. California has varying regions and microclimates that have a range of cool and warm climate conditions in the vineyards.
Other than California and France, Chardonnay is also cultivated in the majority of major wine regions around the world, from New Zealand to Chile, and Australia to South Africa. All producing great wines in unique and regional styles. Our Reserve Chardonnay is breaking away from the overly oaked style and using minimal oak to complement the grape and terroir characteristics instead of overpowering it. The maritime influence from the vineyard proximity to the ocean gives this wine it's special and delicious qualities. See the where the vineyard is located below.
Chardonnay is a chameleon of a wine, with its flavors varying depending on the terroir (where it is grown and the climate, soil and topography conditions of the region), and the winemaking decisions, including how much new oak that is used in the ageing process and how long it’s in contact. Cooler climate Chardonnays can have gorgeous notes of apricots and citrus, and warmer climates can showcase tropical fruit and honey flavors.
The Ideal Pairing Dos and Don'ts
The perfect wine of the summer, Chardonnay is an easy wine for food pairings due to its versatile flavor profile. Whether you feel like whipping up a refreshing seafood salad, or a spring vegetable risotto, Chardonnay is the ideal drink to accompany you on a warm summer day. Below are our families pairing dos and don’ts to make sure you have the best experience possible. Cheers!
- Serve Chardonnay with mild, creamy or buttery dishes.
- Accompany with hearty fishes such as cod or halibut as well as shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, scallops, oysters, and mussels.
- Pair with pork and poultry dishes that have subtle flavors and plain seasonings.
- Accompany oaky Chardonnay with foods that have a smoked or toasty flavor, such as roasted nuts or baked bread.
- Pair Chardonnay with sweet flavored and silky textured foods, such as caramelized roast vegetables, sweet corn, creamy soups, and risottos.
- Pair with aggressively, overseasoned foods and spicy dishes typically found in Indian and Southeast Asian meals. Also avoid pungent or over flavored cheeses.
- Pair with acidic or bitter foods that can make the Chardonnay taste sour or enhance the bitter aftertaste.
- Leave Chardonnay sitting on the table, or serve it too cold as this can reduce it’s pairing abilities. Aim to remove the bottle 15 to 20 minutes from the fridge and let it warm up to approximately 40 degrees.
Now that we have run through the dos and don’ts of food pairings, it's time to indulge in some delicious food recipes to try this season. Whip them up for your next happy hour on the patio, cheeseboard at the park or girls night at home.
Cheese Pairings & Snacks
Pair unoaked Chardonnay with soft and creamy cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Mozzarella and Ricotta. Oaked Chardonnay pairs well with semi-soft aged cheeses with nutty flavors, such as Gruyère, Emmental and Comté.
The rich, buttery flavors of this French-inspired dish pair perfectly with our fruity, yet balanced McBride Sisters Collection Central Coast Chardonnay. These salmon rillettes make a delicious appetizer, or a snack to take for a picnic on the beach!
The main course. You can sip on Chardonnay by itself, with appetizers, entrées and even dessert. These are our go-to summer recipes using fresh seafood and savory chicken. Do you have a favorite Chardonnay pairing?
Chef John's Bay Scallop Chowder
Scallops and Chardonnay are a match made in heaven, and this creamy chowder, complete with Yukon Gold potatoes, is no exception. This dish makes an excellent meal for a dinner party, or a chill night at home where you want to indulge in comfort foods.
Dijon-Tarragon Cream Chicken
The chicken dish we make every week, a Dijon-Tarragon Cream Chicken recipe that is full of Chardonnay-lovin’ ingredients. Pair with a fresh side salad and a glass of our crispy and beautifully balanced McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2019 and you’re all set for a summer date night, solo or with company.
Butter Pecan Crunch
Ice-cream makes the ideal summer treat anytime, but when combined with vanilla and butter pecan flavors, the result is a mouthwatering dessert that pairs perfectly with the lemon curd and honey flavors of our McBride Sisters Collection Central Coast Chardonnay.
Image via Spaceships and Laser Beams & recipe here.
For us, Chardonnay is so much more than just a wine, it is part of our heritage and heart, it is an origin story. Taste our Chardonnays and get ready for your next summer feast by ordering on our website here or finding the wines in store near you. Get out and enjoy your summer, one glass of Chardonnay at a time!