Chardonnay gets something of a bad rap, being condemned because of its own popularity in the USA. It grows easily in most climates and tends towards the inoffensive, making it perfect for lazy winemakers. It tends to take on other flavours easily so is often made with oak, sometimes barrels, but in the new world it has tended towards oak staves or chips.
Typically you can expect flavours of apple, lemon and tropical fruit, including peaches and melons. A hint of ginger is frequently included in the flavour mix. French oak adds more spice, whilst American oak adds a toasty, coconut element.
Chardonnay can be crisp and flinty as with Chablis, or can undergo full or partial malolactic fermentation which adds a buttery tone which can turn to toffee and butterscotch with age.
Chardonnay can age very well and is a major component of Champagnes destined for long aging. Burgundy is the traditional European home of Chardonnay where a wide range of flavour styles are produced from the generic AC through appley Maconnaise, buttery Mersault, and hearty Montrachet.