It is said of this grape that it expresses very well the terroir where it grew and that no Chardonnay is identical. Generally, it has tropical notes when grown in warm climates, while in colder climates, notes of white fruit, such as apple and pear, and earthy notes are more prevalent.
Another characteristic: the chardonnay is very reactive to oak barrels. While a short stay in the barrel gives it a touch of vanilla and very appreciable wood, too much contact with the oak gives it this texture and this exaggeratedly buttered taste – we can think for example of some Californian wines produced in very large quantities. The key to success for you, drinkers looking for an excellent Chardonnay, is to explore!
Best Chardonnay wines under $20
1/ 2018 Sterling Vineyards Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay
I often buy this affordable, simple chardonnay from the Napa Valley in California. In my opinion, this is a fine example of Californian wine without excess. On the nose, we perceive notes of white fruit and wood. It is pleasant, silky and refreshing, slightly oily and dry on the palate. It goes wonderfully with salmon and lobster bites or cheeses – ingredients that lend themselves well to a beautiful picnic!
[ SHOP $14.00 ]
2/ Don David Reserve Chardonnay 2018
A friend recently introduced me to this fresh Chardonnay that I really enjoyed. Sitting well in the northwest of Argentina, the vineyard that produces it, El Esteco, can boast of having its head in the clouds. The Cafayate Desert, where it is located, is 1600 meters above sea level and temperatures can vary by more than 20 degrees Celsius in a day. This may be the reason why this chardonnay combines tropical fruit and apple on the nose. On the palate, it is round and dry. Its freshness and beautiful acidity will be welcome on hot days.
[ SHOP $11.51 ]
3/ Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2017
Washington State, and in particular the Columbia Valley, is a region whose wines deserve to be better known. This bottle has a nice complexity on the nose, with woody and well balanced aromas. On the palate, acidity and freshness are present. It’s round and dry, generous and pleasant, with notes of apple and lemon. A good chardonnay to discover and that goes well with meals.
[ SHOP $12.99 ]
4/ Henry Of Pelham Chardonnay VQA
In 1984, when they uproot the vineyards of Concorde and Niagara to plant vitis vinifera, people believe that they fell on the head. However, it turns out that the protagonists of Henry of Pelham were right in the potential of Short Hills Bench, a sub-appellation of the VQA Niagara Peninsula. If the region enjoys an advantageous climate in this Ontario El Dorado, it still remains northern, favoring wines with a fresh style. This is the case with this Chardonnay, which has been aged on lees in stainless steel tanks, an operation that brings complexity and depth. Its nose reminiscent of maple water, its origin and its freshness will delight the disciples of maple syrup gathered around the traditional meal of sugar time.
[ SHOP $14.95 ]
5/ Vinas de Paniza 2018 Oak Aged, Chardonnay
Located in the south of the Cariñena appellation, Spain, Bodegas Paniza is named after the village where it is located. It is a superb cooperative that was founded in 1953. Today it brings together 325 winegrowers on 2,500 hectares, making it the third largest producer in the region. It produces several ranges of excellent wines, including this delicious Chardonnay from the Vinas De Paniza range. A dry white wine, very well made and completely charming. The archetype of pleasure wine with its aromas of peaches, citrus, honey and flowers, complemented with a toasted touch. Superb roundness in the mouth with an almost creamy texture, but not too much. The whole remains elegant, fresh and digestible and the organoleptic journey ends with a dazzling finish which gives the almost immediate desire to use another glass.
[ SHOP $11.99 ]
6/ Errazuriz Max Reserva Chardonnay 2018
An excellent Chardonnay that proves that a very large producer can offer low-quality wines of high quality. Errazuriz is almost forty different vintages that are categorized into five distinct ranges, including this Max Reserva range. The Chardonnay used for this cuvée comes from vineyards that were planted in 1997 in the La Escultura region, an area west of Santiago, just 32 km from the Pacific in the Casablanca Valley. On this vineyard, the fresh sea breezes facilitate the maturation which is done gradually while ensuring a good level of acidity. The result is an inviting Chardonnay that stands out for its milky notes and aromas of pears, apples, tropical fruits and spices. Subtle minerality, excellent balance, freshness and good amplitude on the palate.
[ SHOP $14.98 ]