The Illinois Cellars Unoaked Chardonel is very similar in taste and look to America’s favorite white wine, Chardonnay. In fact, they are related. Chardonel is a hybrid grape that is a cross between French American Seyval and the European based Chardonnay.
Mary Michelle, who grows and produces Illinois Cellars wine, is located in Carrelton, Illinois. Interestingly, they don’t have a winery that you can visit, but only sell online and through hundreds of retail stores in Missouri and Illinois.
Chardonel is made up of a cross between two grapes: French American Seyval and the vitis Vinifera Chardonnay. Vitis vinifera basically means that the grape vine was born in Europe. Let’s start with the Seyval – by itself it’s primarily citrus in the aroma and taste, while most Chardonny is aged in oak and gives it a buttery or vanilla like taste. Chardonnay can also be unoaked, like this Chardonel, which can result in a dry and crisp wine.
I know, you are thinking – Americans love their Chardonnay! Why don’t Midwestern wineries just grow Chardonnay? Our winters are too cold and harsh and the Chardonnay vines would die. But blended with Seyval, Chardonel is extremely cold resistant.
As you can see in the above photo, this wine is very clear and a pale yellow. With a swirl, I also noticed this wine has “legs,” which means when swirled the liquid slowly goes down the sides of the glass. This was once thought to mean it was high quality wine, but is really due to high alcohol content. This beauty is 12% alcohol.
No super strong aromas, but rather light smells of citrus and tropical fruit.
This wine is dry, just like Chardonnay. It had a crisp taste, with hints of melon and citrus flavors. Another words, a great drink that feels refreshing in this 100 degree heat we’ve been having! I really liked its moderate (not too short or too long) finish. Plus, since its unoaked, it doesn’t have a super overpowering flavor. This let’s you pair it with a huge variety food. My husband and I split our bottle over a Sushi dinner last week.
Wine Varietal: Chardonel grape
Producer: Illinois Cellars
Produced and Bottled: Carrelton, IL
Glass used: Vinum XL Riedel Montrachet glass