Cool-Climate Chardonnay


Cool-climate wine regions around the world offer up their own refreshing take on the COOL beloved Chardonnay grape.
(4 min. read)

Cool-climate Chardonnay has been all the rage of late, and why not? Crisp, fresh, generously food-friendly, and typically only gently oaked to emphasize the fruit, these wines are easy to understand and even easier to enjoy. Across the world, often in places that might surprise you, winemakers are crafting refined, refreshing cool-climate Chardonnay in a variety of styles. Join us now as we look at a few of these places.


Niagara and Nova Scotia may be half a continent apart, but they share one thing when it comes to Chardonnay: the styles they produce are heavily influenced by the proximity of water. 

Lake Ontario and the Atlantic Ocean moderate summer temperatures, allowing for vibrant, fresh Chardonnay. Nova Scotia is one of the coolest wine regions going, and its climate tests the extreme limit for fine winemaking. Careful site selection allows for world-class cool-climate Chardonnay to be produced in both regions, and many, especially from Ontario, have garnered significant praise from local and international wine critics.


Australia’s southernmost wine region is surrounded by water, and its climate is very different than anything experienced on the mainland.

So too are the grapes that flourish here. In fact, the region has more in common with New Zealand viticulture than with continental Australia. The coolest region in Australia, Tasmania is also the most mountainous. Aspect, slope and prevailing cool winds are key factors in the creation of this region’s crisp, bright Chardonnays.


Cool-climate Chardonnay is an ideal partner for casual summer dining (and it’s no slouch for more formal fare). 

Chardonnay’s refreshing acidity allows it to pair with cucumber salads, grilled salmon, or chicken kebabs. It has the versatility for grilled shrimp, turkey burgers, charcuterie-and-cheese plates, or potato salads served with sausages and grilled vegetables. No matter what you’re serving, cool-climate Chardonnay will be a difference maker.

For summer dinners, try cool-climate Chardonnay with Maple Lemon Grilled Salmon or Cucumber & Apple Wedge Salad. Visit lcbo.com/foodanddrink and search recipe name.


Chardonnays from Leyda tend to offer crisp apple and citrus fruit, with a saline-infused minerality.

The cold Humboldt Current, which travels up the coast of Chile from the Antarctic, produces the cooling ocean fogs and breezes that offset Leyda’s warm, sunny conditions and allow for its lively, crisp Chardonnay. Leyda’s poor clay and loam soils set on rolling hills force the vines to struggle to survive, resulting in smaller, more concentrated grapes and complex, high-quality wines.


The northern continental climate of Burgundy presents significant challenges to winemaking, and ripening here can be difficult. 

Volatile weather extremes put crops at the risk of frosts and hail. But this taxing region is where the finest Chardonnay in the world is produced. Sitting between Burgundy and Switzerland, Jura is a mountainous region whose climate is similar to that of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or and also parts of Alsace. Most grapes here are planted on south-facing slopes to maximize sun exposure and aid ripening, and at altitudes of about 300 metres above sea level.


Monterey’s climatic diversity allows it to produce bold reds such as Cabernet and Zinfandel as well as refined Pinot Noir and elegant, crisp, cool-climate Chardonnay.

The secret lies in the cool factor provided by the Salinas Valley. This valley funnels cool air inland from the Pacific Ocean, allowing breezes and fogs to cool grapes grown nearer the coast, preserving their acidity and freshness while the ample sunshine assures ripeness. Monterey Chardonnays will possess vibrant apple, pear and lime tones. Some will suggest tropical fruit, but all will have the region’s defining fresh acidity.

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