Unoaked Chardonnay That’s Brisk and Balanced

Forgoing the barrel, winemakers are crafting unoaked Chardonnay that’s turning heads with its freshness and easy-going nature. Here are nine wines from five countries to seek out.
Getty

The “ABC” (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd may be turned off by bottles that exhibit too much oak for their tastes, but that doesn’t mean they have to abandon the grape. Unoaked Chardonnay can win back even the most ardent detractors. The wines below showcase a variety of flavors and textures, all achieved without the use of an oak barrel.

Morgan 2015 Metallico Unoaked Chardonnay (Monterey); $22, 92 points. This is a stainless steel bottling done right. Citrusy aromas of lime peel, orange pith, just-ripe Asian pear and a flash of sweet butter show on the nose. The texture is phenomenally grippy on the sip, where flavors of crushed chalk meet with yuzu zest, nectarine and white peach, remain brisk throughout. Pink-grapefruit zest carries the finish. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann

Sightglass 2016 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay (Columbia Valley (WA)); $22, 91 points. This wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The aromas bring pure notes of apple, Bosc pear and candle wax. The palate is clear and crisp, with a creamy feel and long finish. It impresses. Editors’ Choice. —Sean P. Sullivan

Rivera 2016 Preludio N.1 Chardonnay (Castel del Monte); $20, 90 points. This bottling was first produced in 1985 and was the first commercial Chardonnay made in Puglia. Over 30 years later, this is a solid representation of the variety, grown on the limestone hills of the Castel del Monte DOC. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in cement vats, this wine exudes ripeness struck against tense mineral sensations. Juicy peach and honeydew melon flavors are wrapped around a core of crushed rocks. This is silken in feel, yet balanced by driving acidity. Editors’ Choice. —Alexander Peartree

Domaine Gueguen 2016 Chablis; $30, 89 points. This fruity vintage yields crisp-textured wines. Offering citrus and creamed-apple flavors, this wine gains further lift from its acidity and light touch of spice. It’s lively, fruity and ready to drink. —Roger Voss

Eikendal 2015 Janina Unwooded Chardonnay (Western Cape); $16, 89 points. This is bright and attractive, with easy-pleasing notes of fresh apple flesh, honeydew, citrus pith and yellow flowers on the nose and mouth. A lightly pithy texture and bright acidity shape the finish, with final notes of tart apple and plum. Drink now. —Lauren Buzzeo

Why Your Chardonnay Tastes the Way it Does

Toad Hollow 2016 Francine’s Selection Unoaked Chardonnay (Mendocino County); $15, 89 points. Fresh doughy aromas, crisp citrus and apple flavors, and a light blanket of buttery, nutty nuances make this a delicious and complex wine. It’s light to medium in body, has a smooth texture and vivid fruit. Editors’ Choice. —Jim Gordon

Wagner 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay (Finger Lakes); $12, 89 points. Saline and sea breeze lend refreshing, nautical appeal to this elegant unoaked Chardonnay. It’s plush and plump in mouthfeel, but anchored by bracing lemon, tangerine and grapefruit flavors. Drink now through 2020. Best Buy.Anna Lee C. Iijima

Domaine du Tariquet 2016 Chardonnay (Côtes de Gascogne); $14, 87 points. The wine is light, but it also has very fine fruitiness and great balanced acidity. With a creamy texture and touches of yellow fruit as well as citrus, the wine is refreshingly fruity with great final acidity in a ripe, rounded context. Drink now. —R.V. 

Zolo 2016 Sustainably Farmed Estate Grown and Bottled Unoaked Chardonnay (Mendoza); $10, 86 points. Basic tropical-fruit aromas settle on pineapple. This unoaked Chardonnay is melony on the palate, with ample acidity. Heavy, ripe flavors of peach, melon and pear turn towards mango on the finish. Best Buy. —Michael Schachner

Published on February 19, 2018
Topics: Steel Deal



SUBSCRIBE TO
NEWSLETTERS
The latest wine reviews, trends and recipes plus special offers on wine storage and accessories