Chardonnay has proved so popular that it has almost become a brand of its own, with many unaware it is the name of a grape. It is said to be the blank canvas on which the winemaker can demonstrate his art. It has a great affinity with oak and is responsible for all the great white wines of Burgundy e.g. Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet; it is a major component in Champagne; it is grown all over the South of France and in the Loire. Other countries such as Spain and Italy also have plantings. Here in New Zealand, we are fortunate enough to have good examples of Chardonnay from Northland to Central Otago. It has a fine, deep lemony flavour, often with some bready notes and hints of oak when made in barrel, perhaps some nuttiness and round butteriness may come through all with a splash of acidity to maintain its length and freshness. Anyone thirsty?