Full Bodied Whites | Semillon & Chardonnay


~57,000 acres worldwide. If you haven’t tried a Semillon and you like the other full-bodied whites, you may want to find a bottle of this sometime soon. While more expensive per bottle compared to other whites (usually between $25-$30) it can be aged for ~10 years depending on style. This varietal can also produce a sweet, dessert-style wine – a good example being Sauternes from Bordeaux. I suggest getting a bottle of Semillon from Washington State to start to understand the United States style before trying to the authentic French style. You will get notes of lime and apple in a light-bodied style. A warmer climate will give you a much richer wine with tropical fruit notes like papaya. Regardless of climate, don’t be surprised if you come across notes of sea salt and beeswax.

Full-Bodied White | Chardonnay

Where to Buy. This is a two pronged approach, region, and style. I recommend same $ same style but one bottle from OR and the other from CA, the first being much brighter lighter melon like flavors while the latter is more tropical and heavier in general. Then look at 100%, 50%, 0% oak for style. 

What to Pair. I don’t like dessert wines with dessert—to sweet. I have found some chardonnays to balance well with vanilla cake/cheesecake. More traditional, chicken with spring greens, or even a creamy soup heavier on vegetables can be good.  Mushrooms for me always calls for Chardonnay.

Summary. The most planted white grape in the world sports a creamy full bodied profile.  Do not expect much if any herbal notes like the Sauv. Blanc, but do expect a large portion of styles having a strong oak presence even though the trend is moving to less oak and more time in stainless steel.

When to Drink. If you are going after the floral and bright citrus flavors, you should drink the bottle ~1 year.  Want to let the body truly show with the often present secondary flavors like butter or tropical notes like mango, you can hold off for a year or two.  Standard bottle no more than 5 years.

How to Serve. Chilled for stainless steel aged but don’t be afraid to increase the temperature for a oak heavy creamy chard. You may even notice that the aromas being more present and built up in the glass.  A good talking point is the style or % oak as it is often the largest winemaking factor in the wine.

Who to Drink. Anyone who hasn’t tried all styles or regions. Can be $-$$, with an entry level bottle (oaked) starting @ $16, artisan quality @ $20.  Stainless steel bottles will be less, new French oak is expensive.  Don’t like Sauv. Blanc? This is the next wine to try in the spectrum of things body and acid.

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