Chardonnay: ‘texture is paramount’

Bouchard Père et Fils head winemaker Philippe Prost shares his views on what makes Chardonnay great and who are producing inspirational expressions of the grape.

Philippe Prost

Philippe Prost believes texture is paramount for Chardonnay

Prost, who has been with Burgundy’s Bouchard since 1978, stresses the importance of achieving ideal maturity for top Chardonnay, and says that the grape requires a long cool ripening period to preserve acidity, limestone for “minerality”, and restraint when it comes to the use of new oak.

Outside Burgundy, he rates California and South Africa for their Chardonnays, and within his home region he is inspired by winemaker Bernard Morey and the wines of Frères Fichet in the Maconnais.

The full Q&A with Prost can be viewed below and is one of a handful of interviews with leading Chardonnay producers ahead of the inaugural Chardonnay Masters by the drinks business.

What factors in your view make a Chardonnay great?

Above all, great maturity. We are fortunate to be able to achieve great maturity because we have consistent acidity. This is also the secret to a creamy, tart impression, which gives a special texture. And texture is paramount – salinity and minerality are assets that give a tone, a life to this grape variety.

Bouchard-Père-Fils-Beaune

Philippe Prost is head winemaker at Bouchard Père Fils

What regions of the world, other than your own, have the potential to produce high quality and distinctive Chardonnay?

Latitude is important to ensure that you have a period of maturation which preserves cool temperatures and retains acidity. Limestone is of course a great feature for this variety, one that needs minerality.
 South Africa and some northern valleys of California produce some beautiful wines.

What is it about Chardonnay that means it has lasting global appeal?

It has a wonderful purity; it doesn’t need bells and whistles (new oak); it is expressive but not vulgar. And it is very much in tune with contemporary cuisine.

Is there a winemaker or wine whose expression of Chardonnay inspires you?

For winemaker, it’s Bernard Morey, while it’s the wines of Frères Fichet in the Maconnais, for their energy, their expression and tone in a very accessible appellation.

global_chardonnay_masters_2013-10-07-13the drinks business Global Chardonnay Masters 2013 takes place in September. Presided over by a panel of Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, rather than being judged by country, each Chardonnay is assessed by style and price.

Those interested in entering the competition can do so here. The deadline for entries is 13 September.

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