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Discovering the Charm of Chardonnay: A Fresh Perspective

When it comes to Chardonnay, many wine enthusiasts have strong opinions. Often, Chardonnay is associated with heavy oak flavors, which can be polarizing. However, there’s more to this versatile grape than meets the eye. At Okanagan Crush Pad, we believe that Chardonnay can offer a delightful surprise to those willing to explore its diverse expressions.


What is Chardonnay?


Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely planted white grape varieties in the world. It originates from the Burgundy region of France but is now grown in almost every wine-producing country. Its adaptability to different climates and soils makes it a winemaker’s favorite, leading to a variety of styles and flavor profiles.

The Taste of Chardonnay


Chardonnay’s flavor profile can range from crisp and citrusy to rich and creamy, depending on the winemaking techniques and the terroir. Here’s a breakdown of the main styles:


·      Unoaked Chardonnay: If you prefer fresh, fruity flavors, an unoaked Chardonnay is the way to go. These wines are typically light-bodied with bright acidity and notes of green apple, pear, lemon, and sometimes tropical fruits like pineapple or mango. Unoaked Chardonnays are fermented in stainless steel tanks, which helps preserve their natural fruitiness and crispness.


·      Lightly Oaked Chardonnay: A lightly oaked Chardonnay strikes a balance between fruit and subtle oak influences. Expect flavors of apple, citrus, and stone fruits with a hint of vanilla and toast. The oak aging process adds complexity and a slight creaminess without overpowering the fruit.


·      Fully Oaked Chardonnay: This is the style that often comes to mind when people think of Chardonnay. These wines are aged in new oak barrels, which impart strong flavors of butter, vanilla, caramel, and spice. They are typically fuller-bodied and can have a rich, creamy texture.


Why Give Chardonnay Another Try?


If you’ve been avoiding Chardonnay because of its association with heavy oak, it’s time to reconsider. Unoaked and lightly oaked Chardonnays offer a completely different experience. Here are a few reasons to give this grape another chance:


·      Versatility in Pairing: Unoaked and lightly oaked Chardonnays are incredibly food-friendly. Their bright acidity and fruit-forward nature make them perfect for pairing with a wide range of dishes, from seafood and poultry to salads and light pasta.


·      Refreshing and Crisp: Unoaked Chardonnays are refreshing and crisp, making them ideal for warm weather or as an aperitif. They can be a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio if you’re looking for something new.


·      Discovering Regional Nuances: Chardonnay reflects the terroir where it’s grown. Exploring Chardonnays from different regions can be a fascinating journey. At Okanagan Crush Pad, our Chardonnays highlight the unique characteristics of the Okanagan Valley, offering a taste of our local terroir.



Okanagan Crush Pad’s Approach to Chardonnay


At Okanagan Crush Pad, we focus on creating Chardonnays that showcase the purity of the fruit and the expression of our unique terroir. Our winemaking philosophy emphasizes minimal intervention and extensive use of concrete vessels, allowing the natural flavors to shine through.


The first six concrete tanks arrived in 2011 and since then, we have added more and even built our own. Today, our concrete collection of 40 tanks ranges in size from 300 litres to 5,000 litres and come in various shapes. Concrete tanks are the perfect vessel for the style of wine we aim to make. The central Okanagan area is the ideal place for cool climate varieties such as pinot noir, gamay, pinot gris and chardonnay. We don’t rush the winemaking process, using low intervention methods to create fruit-forward wines with a fuller textured mid-palate and a finish that goes on and on.


In 2011, when constructing the winery building, the team had the opportunity to put the very best equipment and technology into its new facility. At the urging of consulting winemaker Alberto Antonini, they conducted extensive research and came to understand that using concrete fermenters was an old school technique that is enjoying a renaissance in today’s new tech-savvy world. Concrete has been used for centuries in winemaking but was more or less abandoned with the arrival of stainless steel. According to Alberto, concrete vessels are alive while stainless steel offers a neutral surface for wine to interface with. Stainless steel tanks and oak barrels have their place in our cellar, but the main attraction is concrete.


Haywire Secrest Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay 2019


Haywire’s Secrest Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 comes from a 50-acre site with a unique cool climate terroir. The grapes were whole cluster pressed, with no settling of juice or additives, and underwent natural fermentation and full malolactic conversion. Aging in concrete tanks for ten months on lees contributed to a lush aromatic profile.


Wine Profile: Hints of honeydew, papaya, and citrus zest, beautifully balanced with fine acidity


Perfect Pairings:

·      Seafood: Grilled shrimp, baked salmon with dill, mussels in white wine.

·      Light Meats: Grilled pork tenderloin, lemon-herb roasted chicken, duck breast with orange glaze.

·      Cheese: Manchego, Comté, Havarti.


Haywire Secrest Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay 2020


The Secrest Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay is a textbook classic of this great varietal. Whole cluster pressed, with no settling of juice or additives, it undergoes natural fermentation and full malolactic conversion. Aging in concrete tanks for ten months on lees contributes to a lush aromatic profile.


Wine Profile: Melons, guava, and orange pith. Balanced with fine acidity.


Perfect Pairings:


·      Seafood: Seared scallops, crab cakes, lobster with drawn butter.

·      Light Meats: Turkey breast, veal piccata, roasted quail.

·      Cheese: Aged cheddar, gouda, gruyere.


Haywire Garnet Valley Ranch Chardonnay 2020


This Chardonnay is steely with notes of sherbet and orange blossoms, featuring a dense texture with a delicate fragrant lift. It is finely balanced with mouth-watering acidity.


Wine Profile: Steely, notes of sherbet and orange blossoms, dense texture, balanced acidity.


Perfect Pairings:


·      Fish: Sushi, sashimi, poached salmon with dill.

·      Salads: Asian chicken salad, citrus and fennel salad.

·      Pasta: Lemon and herb pasta, seafood linguine.


Haywire Chardonnay 2021


Haywire’s Chardonnay 2021 was whole bunch pressed and fermented naturally in concrete tanks before malolactic fermentation and further aging on lees. This wine delivers a succinct minerality expressive of the region, with fruit-driven notes and excellent structure.


Wine Profile: Fruit-driven with excellent structure and mid-palate heft.


Perfect Pairings:


·      Seafood: Oysters, rich halibut in a white wine cream sauce.

·      Light Meats: Grilled chicken with herbs, pork chops with apple sauce.

·      Cheese: Soft cheeses like Camembert, triple-cream Brie.


Free Form Blanc de Blanc 2019

Made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, this wine is fermented and aged in a concrete egg, then disgorged after 42 months with zero dosage. It exhibits tropical notes with citrus and grapefruit overtones intermingled with toasty brioche.


Wine Profile: Tropical notes, citrus, grapefruit, toasty brioche, lemon curd, green apple, fresh pastry.


Perfect Pairings:

·      Shellfish: Lobster rolls, shrimp scampi, clam chowder.

·      Brunch Dishes: Eggs Benedict, quiche Lorraine, smoked salmon bagels.

·      Fruit Desserts: Lemon tart, apple strudel, citrus sorbet.




Chardonnay is a grape with many faces, and there’s a style for everyone. Whether you prefer the crispness of an unoaked Chardonnay or the subtle complexity of a lightly oaked one, we invite you to explore the diverse expressions of this classic grape. At Okanagan Crush Pad, we’re proud to offer Chardonnays that break the mold and provide a fresh perspective on this beloved varietal. Give our Chardonnays a try, and you might just find a new favorite.



All prices exclude relevant tax and bottle deposits. Must be 19+ to purchase. Offer available May 23rd, 2024 exclusively.