The white grape variety originates from France. There are around 120 synonyms, which indicate the vine's great age and worldwide distribution. The most important ones, grouped alphabetically by country, are Clevner, Clävner (Alsace); Arboisier, Arnaison Blanc, Arnoison, Aubain, Aubaine, Auvergnat Blanc, Auvernat Blanc, Auxerrois, Auxois, Beaunois, Blanc de Champagne, Chardonnet, Chaudenay, Chaudenet, Chaudent, Epinette, Epinette Blanc, Epinette de Champagne, Gamay Blanc, Gentil Blanc, Luisant, Melon à Queue Rouge, Melon Blanc, Melon d'Arbois, Melon d'Arlay, Morillon, Morillon Blanc, Noirien Blanc, Pineau Blanc, Pineau Blanc Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc Chardonnay, Pinot Chardonnay, Plant de Breze, Plant Doré, Plant Doré Blanc, Plant Doré de Champagne, Rousseau (France); Gelber Burgunder, Klawner, Weißer Ruländer (Germany); Chardonnay Bijeli (Croatia); Obaideh (Lebanon); Wais Edler, Waiser Clevner (Moldova); Morillon, Feinburgunder (Austria). It must not be confused with the varieties Aligoté, Auxerrois (Beaunois), Melon de Bourgogne, Pinot Blanc, Sacy or Traminer (Savagnin Blanc), despite seemingly suggestive synonyms or morphological similarities.
Until the end of the 19th century, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc were often confused. The ampelographer Victor Pulliat (1827-1896) had already assumed in 1868 that there were two different varieties and this was officially recognised, at least in France, in 1872. Other countries had problems for much longer and considered the two to be identical. In Austria, they were still listed together in the official lists of grape varieties until 1999. It was only in 1999 that DNA analyses finally confirmed their independence: Chardonnay is a cross between Gouais Blanc x Pinot. In Styria, Chardonnay is traditionally referred to as Morillon and is often considered to be independent. This vine has minor morphological differences compared to Chardonnay, but is genetically identical.