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“I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay, please.” Of course you will. Easy to find and to love, millions of people drink Chardonnay frequently. The big question is, what type of Chardonnay do you want in your glass, and how much do you want to spend on it?
Chardonnays are dynamic and diverse. Modern iterations hail from the variety’s viticultural birthplace in Burgundy, France to the United States, Australia and beyond, with stylistic interpretations that range from crisp and steely to bold and voluptuous. It can be a value-minded, easy-drinking pour, or a pricier selection of great structure, depth and pedigree capable of long-term cellaring.
Like Goldilocks, from a profile and price perspective, everyone has their own “just right” when it comes to Chardonnay.
To help discover new selections to try that align with your personal preferences, we combed through recent Chardonnay reviews from around the globe to find outstanding wines diverse enough in flavors, textures and price points to please anyone.
Finding a Chardonnay that offers the balance, tension and weight that are hallmarks of the variety within a value price range is like striking gold. Domestic options from California, Oregon and Washington often deliver this in spades, with imports from Australia and Bulgaria rounding out the weekday white options.
Diora 2019 La Splendeur du Soleil Chardonnay (Monterey); $20. Buy on Wine.com. Excellently presented aromas of butter, nectarine, warm almond and white flower are delicate but expressive on the nose of this bottling. An immediate acidity races through the palate, lifting the toasty and buttery elements while pairing smartly… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Jax 2020 Y3 Chardonnay (Napa Valley); $20. Buy on Wine.com. in concrete tank and aged nearly a year in neutral oak, this wine is crisp and compelling in acidity, with lasting freshness. Apple, lemon and an inviting undertow of baking spice…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
L’Ecole No. 41 2020 Chardonnay (Columbia Valley); $21. Buy on Wine.com. L’Ecole has made its name in large part on its reds in recent years, but the whites are not to be missed. Aromas of cream, yellow apple and toasty spice lead to medium-bodied flavors that linger…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Luke 2020 Chardonnay (Ancient Lakes); $21. Find on Wine-Searcher. Fruit for this wine comes from Evergreen Vineyard. The aromas offer notes of apple, pear, talc, corn husk and French…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Acrobat 2020 Chardonnay (Oregon); $14. Buy on Vivino. This is an exciting new release from a challenging vintage. It’s sharp and crisp, packed with white peach and apple fruit backed by vivid acidity. Fresh…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
J. Lohr 2020 Riverstone Chardonnay (Arroyo Secco); $14. Buy on Wine.com. widely available wine is worth stocking for midweek enjoyment. Light aromas of lemon, honey, nectarine and crushed white rock lead into a…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Rough Day 2020 Chardonnay (Thracian Valley); $12. Find on Wine-Searcher. This unoaked Chardonnay has aromas of lemon curd, white flowers and apple. It is well balanced on the palate, with flavors of apple, lemon zest…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Angove 2020 Naturalis Made with Organic Grapes Chardonnay (South Australia); $14. Find on Wine-Searcher. This is a straightforward but well-made Aussie Chard. Appealing aromas of lemon oil, lychee and tropical fruit are backed by subtle, toasty oak spice. In the mouth, the acidity is lifted but nicely balanced by…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Within the mid-tier price range, Chardonnay bottlings can display the sophistication, depth and complexity not found in many lower-priced offerings. Use of expensive oak, prized vineyards and smaller yields can lead to an increase in price. Many regions offer stunning examples in this price range, including Burgundy, California, New Zealand, Oregon, South Africa and beyond.
Diatom 2020 Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County); $30. Buy on Vivino. Fresh melon, Key lime and celery aromas make for a unique and refreshing nose in this tantalizing wine by Greg Brewer. The wine zips…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Drouhin Oregon Roserock 2019 Chardonnay (Eola-Amity Hills); $35. Find on Wine-Searcher. 2019 is a stellar vintage with tremendous vitality and precision. The crisp apple fruit is underscored by refreshing minerality. And as the wine…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Gary Farrell 2019 Russian River Selection Chardonnay (Russian River Valley); $35. Buy on Vivino. This outstanding wine offers a full range of complex flavors, texture and depth, the grapes sourced from a who’s who… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Dance 2019 Chardonnay (Columbia Valley); $42. Find on Wine-Searcher. The aromas intrigue on the nose, with notes of clarified butter, straw, spice and pumpkin. The palate shows depth and breadth to the stone fruit flavors but also sophistication. The balance is exquisite. For those looking for a full-bodied Chardonnay…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Giesen 2016 Clayvin Single Vineyard The Fuder Series Chardonnay (Marlborough); $40. Find on Wine-Searcher. Classy, characterful and food-friendly, this Chard is, despite the bottle age, still at the beginning of its life. It takes time to open, so a decanter is recommended, but when it does, it reveals green melon rind, citrus…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Penfolds 2018 Max’s Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills); $25. Buy on Vivino. In typical Penfolds style, this is a glossy Chardonnay, with balance, finesse and nary a hair out of place. Lifted aromas of pineapple rind, grapefruit, white flower blossoms and flint morph towards cashew and toasted brioche as the wine warms…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Roland Lavantureux 2019 Chablis; $33. Buy on Vivino. Salty tangs of oyster shell and crushed limestone accent this fresh-fruited wine. Yellow plum, apple and grapefruit flavors are ripe and juicy, but it’s a briskly…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Tesselaarsdal 2019 Chardonnay (Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge); $40. Find on Wine-Searcher. Beautifully precise aromas of orange rind, crisp yellow apple, soft toast and delicate wood spice dance on the bouquet of this lovely Chardonnay. The palate is focused and pure, with ample ripe fruit…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Luca 2019 G Lot Chardonnay (Tupungato); $35. Buy on Vivino. A smooth mix of melon, tropical fruit, vanilla and woody aromas open this high-elevation, mostly barrel-fermented Chardonnay that’s balanced yet…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
The top echelon of Chardonnay is all about site. Grand and premier cru Burgundy remain the pinnacle of quality, with premium-priced examples from California’s North Coast and the Willamette Valley in Oregon delivering excellent domestic offerings as well. Impeccable balance, site expression and longevity are key deliverables for this group.
Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils 2019 Les Clos Grand Cru (Chablis); $125. Buy on Wine.com. A champion of the celebrated Les Clos, this powerful, soul-reaching wine highlights the finesse of grand cru Chablis even in the hottest of vintages. Indisputably massive, unctuous even, it pulsates with yellow-cherry and peach flavors…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
DuMOL 2019 Wester Reach Chardonnay (Russian River Valley); $60. Buy on Wine.com. with a rich mouthfeel of oak and tropical fruit, this wine offers layers and layers of complexity, structure and nuanced…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Domaine Divio 2020 Chardonnay (Willamette Valley); $55. Find on Wine-Searcher. Intense and concentrated, this stunning wine is loaded with robust and varied tree fruits and saturated with lush barrel flavors from aging in 45% new French oak. Accents of cinnamon…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Philippe Colin 2019 Les Chenevottes Premier Cru (Chassagne-Montrachet); $166. Buy on Wine.com. Despite the intensely ripe vintage, there’s plenty of elegance in this sun-drenched yet mineral, lifted Chardonnay. Matured 12 months in lightly toasted oak barrels (one-third new), it’s slightly richer and nuttier…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Cattleya 2019 Cuvée Number Five Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast); $55. Buy on Vivino. Amazing aromas of Key lime pith, chalk and white blossoms are subtle and soft yet enrapturing on the nose of this bottling. The wine…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Domaine Serene 2018 Côte Sud Vineyard Chardonnay (Dundee Hills); $90. Buy on Vivino. This lovely wine is textured and deep, mixing soft fruit flavors of pear and peach with resonant barrel notes (40% new) of buttery…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Joseph Drouhin 2019 Clos des Mouches Premier Cru (Beaune); $185. Find on Wine-Searcher. Ripe, juicy yellow-plum and pear flavors are calibrated by a fresh mineral undertone in this voluptuous expression of one Burgundy’s most celebrated vineyards. Matured 12–15 months in 25% new oak, it’s a big, powerful wine adorned in…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
FEL 2019 Savoy Vineyard Chardonnay (Anderson Valley); $52. Buy from Lede Family Wines. This richly spiced but vibrant and balanced wine beautifully weaves together subtle oak, rich vanilla, butter, pear and peach flavors, adding toasted almond and baked coconut on the finish. Grown in a noted single vineyard, it is…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Louis Jadot 2019 La Garenne Premier Cru (Puligny-Montrachet); $109. Find on Wine-Searcher. Concentrated flavors of white peach and apricot are swirled into hazelnut and sweet cream in this ripe Chardonnay. Deeper reaching, ephemeral nuances of earth and stone here are a step up from…SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!