Chardonnay is the most widely planted white wine grape in the world, and for good reason. Its incredible versatility is responsible for complex and ageworthy Champagne as well as covetable, clean white Burgundy.
But while oaky Chardonnay remains popular, the unoaked ones show the crisper side of the grape. These wines are all fermented in stainless steel and run the gamut from light and simple, to serious and ageable.
Schild Estate 2019 Unwooded Chardonnay (Barossa Valley); $17, 92 points. This unwooded Chardonnay is a refreshing contrast to many of this producer’s ripe, powerful reds. It opens with a bright perfume of peach, melon and ginger, with a mineral, saline note in the background. The palate has textural appeal. It’s creamy in feel yet lifted by pure, mouthwatering acidity and clean, fresh fruit flavors. USA Wine West. Editors’ Choice. —Christina Pickard
Balletto 2019 Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay (Russian River Valley); $20, 91 points. Estate-grown fruit presents as light in color and floral on the nose, with a fleshy flavorful palate of peach, green apple and pear. Long-lasting freshness and focus support its steely, light-bodied frame. —Virginie Boone
Four Vines 2019 Naked Chardonnay (Central Coast); $11, 91 points. This unoaked bottling carries all the tropical hallmarks of the style, starting with jasmine and guava flesh on the nose. The palate is generous in both acidity and flavor, showing pineapple, lychee, guava and stone fruit that linger into the grippy finish. Best Buy. —Matt Kettmann
Saracina 2019 Unoaked Chardonnay (Mendocino); $20, 91 points. This medium-bodied wine is graceful and well balanced, offering crisp lemon and green-apple flavors on a rather lean, tangy texture. It is nuanced and complex, and has a nice tension from tantalizing acidity. —Jim Gordon
Tolosa 2019 No Oak Heritage Chardonnay (Central Coast); $23, 91 points. Lots of lemongrass and lime-blossom aromas make for a very fresh and zesty nose on this bottling, which also shows grapefruit-peel and oyster-shell elements. The palate is very tightly woven, with lemon-flesh and pomelo-peel flavors proving very sharp and laser-focused. Drink now through 2034. Cellar Selection. —M.K.
Chehalem 2019 INOX Unoaked Chardonnay (Chehalem Mountains); $20, 90 points. All-stainless fermentation and aging puts an emphasis on bright, fresh fruit first and foremost. Ripe enough to feel deliciously sappy, this mixes Meyer lemon, pineapple and mixed citrus in a generous, lingering palate. —Paul Gregutt
Forgeron 2019 Otherworldly Unoaked Chardonnay (Yakima Valley); $25, 90 points. Aromas of freshly cut apple and pear are followed by full-feeling flavors. Tart acidity backs it up. It has a pleasing sense of varietal purity. —Sean P. Sullivan
Fox Run 2019 Doyle Family Chardonnay (Seneca Lake); $13, 89 points. Bright aromas of orange blossom and lily grace the nose of this Chardonnay that’s blended with a tiny amount of Traminette. The palate is ripe and juicy in flavors of pineapple and peach, cinched up by a pleasing textural grip and bright acidity. This is a solid buy for those looking for a fruity yet balanced medium-bodied white. Best Buy. —Alexander Peartree
Rough Day 2019 Unoaked Chardonnay (Thracian Valley); $12, 89 points. This Bulgarian white has aromas of white peach, honeysuckle and Granny Smith apple. In the mouth, lively acidity lifts flavors of apple, lemon curd and lemon zest before the crisp finish. G&B Importers. Best Buy. —Jeff Jenssen
Tormaresca 2019 Chardonnay (Puglia); $12, 88 points. This fun, fruity Chardonnay kicks off with aromas of banana, yellow apple and peach on the nose. The palate is light and brisk in tones of stone fruit and lemon, making this a well-balanced, enjoyable offering. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Best Buy. —A.P.