The unoaked Chardonnay displays pronounced fruit aromas of apple, quince and some tropical notes. When fermented or matured in oak barrels, the wine develops buttery and toasty aromas, a richness and nuances of white bread, dried fruit and raisons.

Origin

probably Burgundy, France

Parentage

Natural crossing of Burgunder x Heunisch

Vineyard area

1,934.03 ha; 4.3%

Vineyard area

Chardonnay only gained in importance throughout Austria at the end of the 20th century, although it had already become established as a significant variety in Steiermark before then. In earlier days, differentiation was rarely made between Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. Even in statistical records, both varieties were ranked together as one (listed as “Weißer Burgunder”). In Steiermark, “Morillon” is traditionally used as a synonymous name for Chardonnay.
 

 

A picture shows grapes of the grape variety Chardonnay
© Austrian Wine / Oberleithner

Important ampelographic features

Leaf

medium-sized, pentagonal, shallow-lobed, exposed petiole, open


Grape cluster

medium-sized, densely berried, cone-shaped, often with secondary clusters; berries are round and yellowish-green in colour

Morillon is genetically identical to the Chardonnay variety. Although specialists can recognise minimal differences in the colour of the leaves and buds, this is not sufficient to declare it a completely separate grape variety. There are no differences in the characteristics of the grape cluster either.

Ripening

Ripening

very early
early
early to middle
middle
middle to late
late
very late

Significance & conditions

Chardonnay is grown internationally and yields some of the world’s most expensive wines. It is also used as one of the three key base wines for Champagne production. This variety requires warm vineyards with soils offering deep root depth, a good water supply and high limestone content.

Area under vine in Austria
(as a proportion of the variety’s total area)

Click on the wine origin in the list for a breakdown into more specific regions of origin.

Total area in Austria:

A picture shows a hand holding a glass of white wine.
© Austrian Wine / Blickwerk Fotografie

Characteristics of the wine

Harvesting this variety too early can result in unripe, thin and grassy wines. When the grapes are at fully maturity, the resulting wines can be powerful and elegant with good ageing potential. There are two types of élevage, resulting in different styles. The one is traditional élevage in stainless steel tanks, which produces stronger notes of fruit and animated acidity, while the other, most internationally widespread method is using barriques and malolactic fermentation. The most important quality of a great Chardonnay wine is its complexity, which only comes through when grapes are grown in especially good vineyards with limestone-rich soils. The best examples of these complex Chardonnays are grown on the Leithaberg in northern Burgenland and in Steiermark – although there are also a few outstanding vineyards in Niederösterreich and Wien.

Source varietal specifications: Höhere Bundeslehranstalt und Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau (Federal College and Federal Office for Viticulture, Oenology and Fruit Growing) in Klosterneuburg, “Austria’s Qualitätswein grape varieties and their clones“ („Österreichische Qualitätsweinrebsorten und deren Klone“), 2nd, reviewed edition, September 2015

Source area under vine: Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism according to IACS (as at 31 May 2022)

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