Chardonnay (Morillon)

A picture shows grapes of the grape variety Chardonnay
© AWMB / Oberleitner

Origin: France, Burgundy

Parentage: Natural crossing of Burgunder and Heunisch

Vineyard area: 1,431 ha, 3.1 %. Chardonnay gained importance in Austrian vineyards only at the end of the last century, although the variety already had long been cultivated here, especially in the Steiermark. In earlier days, often no differentiation was made between between Weißer Burgunder (Pinot blanc) and Chardonnay. Even statistically, both varieties were ranked together as one grape (Weißer Burgunder). In the Steiermark, the name Morillon is traditionally used as a synonym for Chardonnay.

Important ampelographic features
Leaf: medium-sized, pentagonal, few lobes, exposed petiole, open.
Grape cluster: medium; dense round berries, conical, often has wings, yellowish-green colour

Morillon is genetically identical to the Chardonnay variety. Specialists see little differences in the colour of the leaves and buds. There are also no differences in the characteristics of the bunches.

Ripening time: mid-season

Importance, conditions: The variety is grown throughout the world and yields some of the most expensive wines anywhere. It is also used for base wine in champagne production. Warm sites with deep soil, good water retention and ample limestone content are required.

Wine: Depending on maturity levels, wines can range from unripe, thin and grassy to fully ripe and powerful. There are two types of maturation  – in “classic” steel tanks, which accentuates fruit and animated acidity; and the the most widely used method internationally – malolactic fermentation and ageing in barriques. The most important feature of a great Chardonnay is complexity, which comes through only when grapes are grown in especially good sites with calcareous soil. The best examples of these complex Chardonnays are from northern Burgenland and Steiermark, and from some sites in Niederösterreich and Wien (Vienna).