It’s no secret that chardonnay lovers tend to have strong preferences as to the types of chardonnay they drink. For example, some prefer the minerality and austerity that are hallmarks of Chablis. Others love the lusciousness of California’s bigger chards. Sometimes, choosing the right bottle of chardonnay can be difficult. In our opinion, it all depends on the season, what mood you’re in, and most importantly, what wine works best for you.
Have you ever tried a chardonnay with green fruits? Or, have you ever had chardonnay with lemon and vanilla fragrances? If the answer is no, then we have put together an exciting list for you. If the answer is yes, then we may have found some great brands for you to try.
Here, then, are 10 wines, some of which will appeal to each camp, with a couple of other New World choices tossed in for extra variety.
Bernard Defaix “Côte de Lechet” Chablis Ier Cru 2012 ($27). Juicy apple flavors moderated by lots of brioche notes and even a touch of cornmeal. Good acidity.
William Fevre “Montmains” Chablis Ier Cru 2012 ($44). Very enjoyable wine with nice green fruits — mainly gooseberries — and good finishing acidity. It’s still a little tight, not a bad thing, and it will loosen up and gain in complexity in a year or two.
Jean-Marc Brocard “Valmur” Chablis Grand Cru 2011 ($59). Rich and long on the palate, delightful with its combo of crisp and mellow apples along with a few savory hints in the finish.
Albert Bichot “Domaine Long-Depaquit” Chablis 2013 ($22). Good volume and mouthfeel but lacking the minerality we expect from Chablis. That said, it is a delicious wine on its own terms with lots of lemon and vanilla fragrances.
Dolin Malibu Coast Chardonnay 2013 ($37). Malibu is a fairly new, fairly small appellation. This representation of the region is quite fruity, with lots of apples and peaches and a good finishing acidity. It does have a little “bump” in the middle — plump but not quite fat.
Franciscan “Cuvée Sauvage” Carneros Chardonnay 2013 ($36). Using indigenous yeast was once the natural way to make wine, then it became a daring thing as commercial yeasts introduced more reliability and flexibility. “Sauvage” was created as a reaction to the commercial curve, but today so many wines use some or all natural yeasts that it no longer seems an edgy thing to do. Edgy or not, it is an enjoyable wine with juicy apple flavors, apricots, and a little eau-de-vie jolt.
Concha y Toro “Casillero del Diablo” Chile Chardonnay 2014 ($9). Mellow, creamy apples and pears with touches of corn oil. Medium weight.
Galer “Equivine Farms” Chester County Chardonnay 2013 ($32). Southeastern Pennsylvania has proven a fertile growing ground for chard. This one falls halfway between creamy and minty, tropical fruits and apple with perhaps a soupçon of sweetness blended back.
Robert Mondavi “Private Selection” California Chardonnay 2014 ($9). This is another “price point” wine — made to sell for under $10. The result is “OK,” a peachy-apple carafe wine to drink with a meal but not a wine to savor by itself.