Ten grape myths and legends

Chardonnay

Did crusader knights bring Chardonnay back from Holy Land?

The myth: ‘It was brought back from the Lebanon by crusaders’

One of the most well-known grape varieties in the world and one both lauded and vilified in equal measure.

The now oft-retold story of drinkers saying they don’t like Chardonnay but love Chablis and Champagne is perhaps the better known now but there is a hypothesis that Chardonnay originated in the Lebanon.

Obaideh is a native grape to the Middle Eastern country and there are many who say it is Chardonnay.

As with Syrah, it is sometimes argued that crusading Franks picked up a taste for the local wine on their campaigns and made sure to take some seeds or cuttings back home with them.

The truth: They didn’t. There is an, as yet, unproven link that Obaideh is related to Chardonnay but if it is then it will have been a European bringing it to the Levant and not the other way round.

Chardonnay itself has been shown to be an offspring of that famous viticultural partnership, Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc.

The first recorded mention of it is in the late 1680s in the village of Saint-Sorlin (now La Roche-Vineuse) in southern Burgundy, where it is mentioned in various sources that the best white wine in the area is made from ‘chardonnet’.

Its final name was taken from another nearby village, Chardonnay, but the spelling did not become standard until the 20th century.

2 Responses to “Ten grape myths and legends”

  1. Kent Benson says:

    Another common grape myth is the still prevalent claim by Argentine producers that their Bonarda is from Italy. DNA profiling has shown it to be the Savoie variety, Douce Noire, also known as Charbono, Corbeau, and Charbonneau.

  2. DC says:

    Can’t quite see how number 10, Merlot, is a “myth” when the author goes on to say that the “folklore” is “in all likelihood true.”?

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