With Thanksgiving this week, we thought it would be a good occasion to round up a bunch of chardonnays we recently tasted. Last week we wrote about alternative choices for the holiday dinner, but chardonnay still remains one of our favorite white wines to serve with the traditional turkey meal.
Chardonnay — one of the most popular grape varieties worldwide — enjoys a popularity based on a range of styles that appeal to a large swath of consumers. Chardonnay from Chablis, for instance, is lean and minerally. French burgundy is aromatic and often full-bodied. California chardonnays blessed with oak are often creamy and rich. Pick a style and enjoy.
Here are some of our recent favorites:
The Hilt Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2021 ($50). This extraordinary chardonnay has become a perennial favorite. One of the best in a flight of chardonnays we recently tasted, it deserves its price. Six months on the lees in stainless-steel tanks gives it a velvety texture. Great stone fruit and lemon custard aromatics are enveloped in a palate of ripe peaches and spice. Excellent balance and finish add to one of the most well-rounded chardonnays in this group.
Mount Veeder Napa Valley Chardonnay 2021 ($50). Ripe apple and tropical fruit aromas with a pineapple flavor and a hint of vanilla. A great companion to fowl or fish.
Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran 2021 ($25). Don’t overlook Burgundy for reasonably priced chardonnay. Those from the Maconnais and smaller villages can give you a lot of flavor for the money. We like them in general for their freshness and oak-avoidance that give them a clean palate feel.
Henri Perrusset Macon-Farges Vielle Vignes 2019 ($25). The chardonnay from villages west of the Saone River are reasonably priced. Austere in scope with white peach, nutty and citrus notes, it has an interesting minerality that pairs well with fish.
Trenel Macon Villages 2021 ($28). Simple yet long in the finish with citrus and tropical fruit notes.
FEL Anderson Valley Chardonnay 2021 ($34). This producer forgoes the malolactic fermentation to keep the wine fresh and lively. It makes for a better match to food. Stone fruit aromas and citrus and melon flavors.
Ram’s Gate Bucher Vineyard Chardonnay 2021 ($74). This is an absolutely stunning chardonnay for those consumers looking for something special to pair with the holiday dinner. Very rich and full-bodied on the palate, it exudes citrus notes, spice and tropical fruit flavors, a brush of oak and balanced acidity.
Sonoma-Cutrer Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2021 ($40). We haven’t found a better chardonnay for the price in a long time. Part of the producer’s Winemaker’s Release series, the chardonnay draws grapes from two vineyards of the respected Dutton Ranch, which is known for producing wines with robust flavors. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed to avoid bitter tannins from the skins and seeds. The wine is smooth with baked apple, peach flavors and hints of clove and vanilla. It’s simply delicious.
Landmark Overlook Chardonnay 2020 ($27). The price is reasonable for what you get here. Apples, pears and citrus notes abound in the nose and mouth with balanced acidity and lengthy finish.
VML Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2021 ($37). Using grapes from four vineyards, seven diverse blocks and three different clones, VML has a complex and balanced chardonnay. The aromas are of freshly baked bread, vanilla and almond. Tropical and apple fruit dominate the palate.
Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2021 ($40). We loved this wine for its huge aromatics — stone fruit and melon — and its generous flavors — citrus, nectarine and lots of roasted almonds. Rich and complex, it’s a good match to seafood dishes.
Bread and Butter California Chardonnay 2021 ($16). A good value, this chardonnay from the broad California appellation delivers tropical fruit notes in a creamy envelope. Oak and vanilla add a nice touch.
Ferrari Carano Tre Terre Chardonnay 2021 ($36). This tasty wine from the Russian River Valley shows off citrus and apple notes with a good dose of stone-fruit flavors and a hint of spice.
Decoy Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2021 ($30). Apple and white peach flavors dominate this richly textured wine — always a good value.
Baileyana Edna Valley Chardonnay 2021 ($28). We were very pleased with this fairly priced chardonnay from a region cooled by ocean breezes. We loved the citrus, stone fruit aromas and ripe tropical fruit flavors. Very opulent and spiked with mineral and spice.
Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay Sonoma County 2022 ($27). A classically styled California chardonnay. Ripe tropical fruit and peach notes marry well with toasty oak elements and a creamy finish.
Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 ($40). This producer is a reliable mainstay in the vast Columbia Valley region of Washington. We hope the equity partners who bought it this year will not change the price-quality ratio for which it has been known. This sturdy cabernet is a prime example of what doesn’t need changing. Concentrated dark fruit character with firm tannins.
Chateau Ste Michell Artist Series Red Wine 2019 ($70). Beyond the beautiful label that showcases artist Jazz Brown is a wonderfully complex and rich blend of cabernet sauvignon (61%), merlot, malbec and cabernet franc. Well-structured with black cherry and plum notes and a hint of spice.
True Myth Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 ($24). Ripe dark red fruit flavors with a hint of pepper and dark chocolate.
Kirkland Barlo 2019 ($20). This isn’t your classic, high-octane barolo that collectors will crow about, but it has a savory character hard to ignore. Medium-bodied with cherry and tobacco notes.