It’s always a good time to be talking about Chardonnay, but never better than now. As we lead into the holidays many will be faced with making the daunting choice of bringing a bottle or two to dinner. It’s a perilous responsibility fraught with potential for disaster, but it doesn’t have to be.
When in this position stop trying to be the hero and play the numbers. The numbers say that Chardonnay continues to be the most popular white wine in the country. It’s usually pretty food friendly after all, particularly with the buttery turkey that is looming in our future. While I prefer to pair wine with the stuffing and accoutrements that surround the bird, when you are an invitee you often are walking into dinner blind, so pairing the wine with the bird is a safe and wise route to take. Picking one that most people seem to enjoy makes the choice so safe it’s bordering on bland, but this isn’t about you now is it?
And finally, while you don’t have to spend about $30 to get a fine bottle of Chardonnay, this is roughly the price where you start getting great bottles of Chardonnay, or most any wine for that matter. There just isn’t that much difference between $30 and $50 bottles of wine so if you find a great $30 bottle of wine, enjoy it for what it offers and recognize it as the great value that it is. And of course share it with friends and family this holiday season. So without further ado, $30 Chardonnays worthy of your attention this holiday season.
A little funky and slightly cheese on the nose which carries with it the aromas of old wood and freshly crushed fruit, picking up nuanced smoke, herb stem and lime aromas as it opens. Bright and fantastically vivid on entry, this is all about tart citrus and apple fruit flavors and a very fine base of dried herbs, flowers and soil tones. Nuanced and complex this elegant offering, dances lightly on the palate with admirable purity and refreshing brightness finishing with an earthy cast to the fresh citrus and pineapple flavors. Subtle and pure. 92pts
Spicy and cool on the nose with subtle nutty oak notes joining fresh citrus and golden apple fruit on the nose. Moderately large scaled in the mouth but at the same time nicely nervy with fine integrated acidity that is probably higher than one thinks though it is so nicely buffered by the fruit. A hint of creaminess develops with air, making this both soft and bright in the mouth with flavors of key lime pie and bitter apples that makes this particularly food friendly. The finish recalls the nose with a lovely spice aromatic quality. This is rather elegant consider how big it is and offers impressively pure and precise flavors marked by well judged oak. 92pts
Tight on the nose and a bit youthfully grapy with fine oak framing notes and a core of lime pith and heirloom apple fruits. Tight and focused in the mouth, there’s a touch of wood spice sweetness here supporting fine, ripe apple and creamy almost peachy flavors. The texture really opens up on the mid-palate where this gains richness and power as well as a light mineral note that drives the long finish. Attractive with spiced apple flavors and subtle oak layered over the mineral notes on the long vanilla tinged finish. Elegant and rich. 92pts
Barrel fermented aromas greet the nose along with creamy, nutty, buttery, pineapple aromas and sweet toasted spice notes. Surprisingly open and fresh in the mouth with clean crisp apple fruit early on the palate then turning a bit riper with a little nectarine on the mid-palate. The nose shows much more oak and buttery character than the palate which is clean, lighter than the 14.1% would suggest finishing with good energy and real finesse. This is rather long and focused. 91pts
Very fine on the nose showing subtle oak influence under a layer of fine, bright fruit, that is fresh and lemony with a little flinty mineral aspect. The palate mimics the mouth with zesty citrus laced crisp apple flavors and a fine edge fof minerality. Really just perfectly ripe fruit that has great acid cut on the palate and real energy in the mouth. it’s a touch simple perhaps, picking up dusty mineral earth on the back palate before leading into a long lime fruited and attractive oak accented finish. Really lovely balance here. 91 pts
Tight and earthy on the nose with faint aromas of pear fruit grounded by a base of soil tones with smoky, leesy, floral accents. Showing lovely integration in the mouth, there’s subtle oak imprint here adding nuance to the slightly creamy and yet fresh fruit. Showing off apple and unripe pineapple flavors framed with gentle suggestions of green herbs and lime zest, this flows across the palate with gentle ease finishing with fine energy and some mouth grabbing tannins. Gentle and very honest feeling, this is a wine that relies on savory flavors as much as the fruit with not that much winemaking in evidence. 91pts
Pretty oaky and creamy on the nose with hints of heather and almonds supporting ripe green apple and almost melonny/pumpkin like fruit. Big, rich and a bit buttery though with plenty of supporting acid. This is a rather flamboyant wine, full of toasty oak spice and vanilla flavors that work well with the honeydew melon and green apple fruit on the palate. The wood takes over on the finish which is a bit short if refreshing. A big, rich Chardonnay with fine underlying tension. 91pts
A bit low key on the nose but with beautiful citrus aromas, a hint of grapefruit and lime accenting apple fruit with fine oak spice and creamy shadings. Bright and rather crisp on entry then turning very creamy in the mouth with vanilla laced apple pie and lemon flavors. This is broad yet with enough acid to keep it fresh and engaging, finishing with excellent freshness and lovely sweet lemon and apple flavors. A little loose knit but rather attractive for what it is with nuanced mineral and nutty tones on the lemon curd toned finish. 91pts
Quite mineral and almost chalky on the nose with aromas of apple skins and apricot topped by smoky minerals and a very fine oak shading. Tight and acid driven in the mouth with clean, fresh fruit flavors that are a little subdued and framed by gently creamy oak notes. There’s a touch of hazelnut here along with a little green plum skin, lime, and banana flavors that sticks to the palate through the long, zesty mineral framed finish. Lean and focused, this is very restrained. 90pts
This smells lovely with a bit of a jolly ranch aspect to the candied lime fruit that greets the nose but it’s joined by aromas of freshly baked bread, spiced apples and even a suggestion of raspberries. Soft in the mouth and a touch of the creamy almond milk side of the spectrum. I expected a bit more lift on the palate, which is well endowed with peachy , pear fruit all underpinned with fine sweet oak notes. Smooth and easy to drink, this does have subtle mineral and citrus pith notes offers some contrast to the sweet oak and fruit flavors, but it still comes off as more to the sweetly fruity side of things and finishes quickly. 89pts
Fresh and a bit tart on the nose with green apple, baked apple and spicy wood aromas. This enters the mouth with racy acids that keep a palate full of sweet toasty oak spice, baked apple, ripe kiwi and lime curd flavors quite lively. Offering a nice combination of bright open knit textures and moderately rich flavors, this stumbles a bit on the modest finish which shows floral leesy character and a nice pop of minerality on the final. 89pts
Tight on the nose with attractive aromas of French oak and subtle green apple and toasted nut notes. Soft and open on entry with early flavors of raw almonds and creamy accent the the sweet green apple and lightly green plummy flavors on the palate. This is very supple and fairly rich though with enough acid to keep things lively and focused in the mouth. A touch simple on the finish which shows a hint of tannin and some lovely creamy citrus flavors. 89pts
Warm, almondy and a bit toasty on the nose yet soil driven with mineral and strong floral base notes supporting the core of green apple and lime cream aromas. A little spicy on the nose. Round and soft at first then the acids kick in lending some mineral cut to the sweet core of clean, fresh creamy apple, peach and melon fruit. There’s a light biter streak here that adds a nice contrasting note to the otherwise sweet fruit and almondy flavors. The oak is very well judging, present but not intrusive and adding a bit of structure to the modest finish. 89pts
Via: Snooth – Articles