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All About Chardonnay
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed May 7, 2002. For more information go to

As we ask in the introduction to this month's Wine Tasting 101 project on, "Can there be any other grape that earns such a disparate range of opinions as Chardonnay?"

Chardonnay is widely praised as one of the noblest of wine-grape varieties. But the commercial success that has made the name "Chardonnay" almost synonymous with "glass of white wine" has led many wine enthusiasts to reach out for alternatives, chanting the slogan "Anything but Chardonnay."

Today's featured website may help restore our perspective. Published by the French non-profit organization Forum Oenologie, ("Chardonnay of the World") provides all the details of a gigantic annual wine competition that pits more than 1,000 Chardonnays from three dozen countries in competition for gold, silver and bronze medals.

The ninth annual competition, certified by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV), was held in March at Chateau des Ravatys, the wine estate of the Pasteur Institute at Saint Lager in the Burgundy region. After four days of judging, the panels awarded medals to 341, or 30 percent, of the 1,127 wines entered.

France took the lion's share of the honors, claiming 14 of the 33 gold medals awarded (6 for Champagne, 3 each for Southern France and Burgundy and 2 for Northern France). South Africa and the United States claimed 3 golds each; Austria, Chile, Italy and Spain each won 2 golds, and Australia, Canada, Croatia, Slovenia and Switzerland each earned 1 gold.

Along with full listings of the medal winners for the past five years (you can browse by country or look at the winners at each medal listing), you'll find a wealth of information about Chardonnay here, from the vine to the grape to the bottle. And finally, in a useful bonus, the prize listings include Websites and E-mail addresses (where available) for all the award-winning wineries.

"Chardonnay is one of the many grape varieties that France has bestowed on the world, both as a part of France’s cultural heritage and as an example of its good taste," the Website hosts point out. "We can all be thankful for this gift."

Obviously these folks love Chardonnay - and that passion shines through in a site that's well worth a visit. You'll find it at Chardonnay-du-Monde.

And when you finish there, you might be intrigued to know that the same non-profit organization has started a Muscats of the World competition, with a similar site at Muscats-du-Monde.

Want to tune up your taste buds for Chardonnay? Take a look at this month's Wine Tasting 101 feature at


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