March 23, 2016
The Killer Grape
With the internationalization of wine production the use of varietals (the name of the grapes used to make a wine) rather than terroir (the place where the grapes were grown) became the dominant way to market wines. This is why you may not even know that White Burgundy, a famous wine from - where else - Burgundy, is a Chardonnay.
Other countries, trying to create their own ''White Burgundy'', started to plant Chardonnay, and after the ''Judgement of Paris'' of 1976, where California varietals beat French terroir wines, a worldwide Chardonnay-mania developed. Many growers killed their regional grapes and replaced them with what the international market demanded: Chardonnay.
In the mid-nineties voices emerged condemning the Chardonnay-mania. Frank Prial's ''ABC'' (Anything But Chardonnay) became a buzzword, and after many acres of ancient Grenache, Mataro, Negroamaro, Primitivo and other local grapes had been wiped out by new Chardonnay plantings Oz Clarke described Chardonnay as ''…the ruthless coloniser and destroyer of the world's vineyards and the world's palates'' .
Eventually there was a backlash. Tastes changed, and by the late nineties lighter wines like Pinot Grigio as well as red wines started to take a bite out of Chardonnay's market share.
In spite of all this Chardonnay remains one of the most grown and most popular grapes in the world today - but it has stopped killing other grapes.