Celebrate May with the fifth most planted grape in the world and the Anniversary of Judgement Day in Paris.
Not every grape gets its own holiday, but the Thursday before Memorial Day in May is reserved for Chardonnay.
According to National Today, Rick Bakas, a social media marketer for the wine industry, created the holiday after the 2008 global financial crisis to boost wine sales.
Apparently, the holiday was strategically sandwiched near National Wine Day on May 25 and the long Memorial holiday weekend to emphasize the celebratory nature of the day.
Or maybe its a kickstarter to summer akin to other white wines that also have their holidays in May:
- Sauvignon Blanc Day is on the 1st Friday of May
- Moscato Day is May 9
The other major holiday in May is the Anniversary of Judgement Day in Paris in 1976 when a Napa Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena topped white burgundies from famed French vineyards in Mersault and Montrachet.
As the Sonoma County tourism board points out, the winning winery was located in Napa Valley but the fruit to make the wine actually came from Bacigalupi Vineyards in Sonoma County.
Chardonnay had not been a popular grape to plant up until that point. Since that fateful day that changed the face of the California and US wine industry, Chardonnay has flourished around the world.
In remembrance of these holidays, I attempted to do my own Judgment Day (very far away from Paris) comparing a white Burgundy and a Napa Chardonnay, the two most well known regions for this internationally recognized grape.
Unfortunately, the Far Niente Chardonnay from 2009 I opened had seen better days. The cork broke in half when I tried to pull it out, an ominous sign of its deterioration. It had aged to an amber honeyed hue but fell flat and flabby in the mouth. Though it did have a nice aroma of peaches, ripe pears, rice pudding, and sweet baked brioche.
For the white Burgundy, I wanted to try something different than the lean, unoaked Chablis style I had tried to before but without spending more than I would pay for a Chablis.
That turned out to be an organic 2019 Montagny cuvee from Domaine Charton-Vachet for $33.
Montagny is an appellation in Cote Chalonnais and is known for delivering value wines from Burgundy.
Domaine Charton-Vachet is a small producer with just 3 hectares of vineyards that has been certified organic since 2019 and organic practicing since 2016.
Didier Charton-Vachet brought the vineyard back to life after his father-in-law retired in 1993. He seamlessly transitioned from a career in music to the composition of wine.
Ninety percent of the grapes are destemmed, with the remainder of the grapes pressed in whole clusters for structure. The juice is aged in one year old barrels.
As told to Bergman's Bourgogne, Didier notes that Montagny is at a crossroads in Burgundy. "You find all the characteristics of the white wines of Burgundy here. You have the fruit of the Mâconnais. There is the acidity, but not as extreme as in Chablis. In appellations like Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet you have wines with lots of structure and length. It’s not on the same level, but there is the same kind of character in Montagny."
Aroma: chalk, mineral, tahini, seashell
Taste: peach-y, goat-chees-y, oyster-y
Judgment: With a pops of zippy, lemon acidity and lots of refreshing minerality smoothed with a little oak aging, this Montagny wine presented a happy medium of the range found in white Burgundies.
I tried the wine with crab, crab with butter, and roast chicken, but I ended on just preferring the wine by itself.
You can celebrate Chardonnay Day with a bottle of Chardonnay you've never tried before. You can also follow #ChardonnayDay or #ChardDay on social media to participate in the celebration.
Learn more about Chardonnays from France and beyond with the French Winophiles: