The Chardonnay grape is a cross between the noble Pinot Noir grape and the lesser-known Gouais Blanc. DNA experts believe that this cross occurred somewhere in Northeastern France. The grape is similar in flavor and appearance to Pinot Blanc, a mutation of Pinot Noir.
Although California Chardonnay has been made since the 1870s, production did not begin in earnest until the 1960s. The Chardonnay grape is currently grown in many different climates throughout the state. In the right hands, it can express local terroir very succinctly.
The most famous European Chardonnay is grown in Burgundy, France. The grape has reached its zenith in names like Meursault and Montrachet. The soils of the best Burgundian vineyards have a mixture of limestone, clay, and chalk, which are ideal for Chardonnay.