The Best Chardonnays for $20 or Less

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When it comes to Chardonnay, people either seem to be die-hard fans or staunch supporters of the Anything-But-Chardonnay movement. But no matter which side you fall on, you can’t deny this grape’s popularity. After all, it’s one of the most widely-planted varieties in the world. 

What Your Chardonnay's Hue Says About How It Was Made

But Chardonnay haters are missing out. This grape can produce wines that run the gamut from tropical and fruity to flinty and earthy on the palate. It’s also somewhat of a shapeshifter: While it might be controversial, Chardonnay can lend itself well to oak aging, resulting in wines that display vanilla and toasted tones. And if the grape undergoes malolactic fermentation? These wines will typically have a creamy and buttery mouthfeel. In other words, there is a Chardonnay for everyone.

Luckily, you don’t need to spend very much money for an excellent bottle, no matter if you’re just starting to explore the variety or simply want to support a well-developed Chardonnay habit.

Here are (just some of) the best Chardonnays for $20 or less.  

The Best Chardonnays Under $20


Gérard Bertrand 2020 Cote des Roses Chardonnay (Pays d’Oc)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Delicate aromas of ripe stone fruits and jasmine lead the nose on this wine. Zesty yet creamy, the complex palate offers crisp apple, pineapple, butterscotch, vanilla and oak before a saline finish. Best Buy. —Jacy Topps

$14 Wine.com

Muirwood 2021 Chardonnay (Arroyo Seco)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Crisp aromas of lime peel and pear flesh are lively on the nose of this bottling. There’s a firm tightness to the sip, where more citrus and pome fruit flavors align against a vibrant acidity. Best Buy. —Matt Kettman

$14 Total Wine & More

SeaGlass 2021 Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

This is another deft punch from this brand, starting with aromas of chalk, lychee, poached pear and honeysuckle. That chalky tension holds firm through the tropical notes of pineapple and lychee on the palate. —M.K.

$12.99 Wine.com

Sebastiani 2020 Butterfield Station Chardonnay (North Coast)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

This full-bodied and ultra-smooth textured wine boasts the classic California Chardonnay qualities, from a light toasted oak aroma to rich pear and marzipan flavors that expand on the palate and linger on the finish. Best Buy. —Jim Gordon

$12 Wine.com

Thorn Clarke 2020 Milton Park Chardonnay (South Australia)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

This is a bright, linear Chard with notes of lime and pineapple rind underpinned by orange blossom, ginger, and a hint of toasty oak. The palate is lithe and juicy with a lovely lift of acidity and a chalky texture. Oak is well placed and there’s a long, limey finish. Food friendly yet refreshing on its own, and a total bargain. Best Buy. —Christina Pickard

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Raeburn 2021 Chardonnay (Sonoma County)

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This well-rounded, fruity and lightly oaked wine offers the classic baked apple, butter and vanilla flavors backed by mild green-apple acidity and a full body. —J.G.

$15.99 Vivino

Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2021 Chardonnay (California)

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This nicely ripe yet well-balanced wine delivers the classic apples and pears accented by lightly toasted oak, nutmeg and a touch of balsam. It is complex, nicely layered and deftly spiced. Best Buy. —J.G.

$9 Gary's Wine

FAQs 

Is Chardonnay a White Wine? 

Yes, Chardonnay is a white wine. The grape can also be used to make sparkling wines as well—from Champagne to bubbly wines from Franciacorta in Northern Italy.  

What Does Chardonnay Taste Like? 

It depends! These wines can range in flavor from tropical and fruity to flinty and citrusy. If you get an oak-aged bottle, it will likely have vanilla and toasted notes. Malolactic fermentation, meanwhile, can give these wines a creamy and buttery mouthfeel.  

Should Chardonnay Be Chilled? 

You’ll want to serve Chardonnay somewhere between 45 and 50°F. For bigger, oakier bottles, you’ll want to serve it between 50 and 55°F.  

For these wines it’s critical to have the right glassware to fully appreciate what you’re drinking. Chardonnay glasses have a rounded bowl and widened lip that dispense the acidity and bold flavors evenly to the back and sides of the tongue.


Why You Should Trust Us

All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.

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Published on February 15, 2023
Topics: Buying Guide