Chardonnay, perhaps more than any other wine from California, has seen a continued subtle shift in style over the past decade or so. Interestingly the shift parallels to a certain extent developments with Australian Shiraz that put the breaks on the growth of those wines. Simply put the most popular, and critically acclaimed style was one that favored power, richness, fruit and oak over other attributes. Producers fairly quickly realised that it doesn’t take that much to make a sweetly fruited, vanilla and butter laced Chardonnay and poof, in just a few years it became increasingly difficult to distinguish the $50 butter bombs for the $20 butter bombs.

Fortunately for consumers, the $20 butter bombs seem to have, for the most part won that battle but at the same time producers of fine Chardonnay in California, of which there are many, continued to improve their wines, trading in some of the in your face unctuosity for complexity, detail and balance. Now of course there had been wines of this caliber produced in California for decades, but what we are seeing today is growth in this market segment. Growth as producers respond to market forces that seem to indicate that this style of wine is continuing to become increasing popular with consumers, and growth based on an improvd and increasingly specific understanding of the various terroirs that Chardonnay is best suited to.