We could drink Chardonnay all day—and, in fact, on October 15, we will, as we celebrate Chardonnay Day, our ode to one of the world’s most versatile grapes. Vinify this stunner still, or turn it into a yeasty, nervy, tension-filled Blanc de Blancs; from Australia to Burgundy to Champagne to Napa to the Jura, Chardonnay rarely disappoints. As we tip our hats to this grape of many proverbial colors, we’re offering up some of our favorites. Here are this year’s staff picks for Chardonnay’s Best in Show. Chardonnay, we salute you.
Delacroix, Brut – NV
You’re looking at this and wondering, “Can an $8 bottle of French bubbly really be any good?” Yes. The Delacroix is awesome. Crisp and dry and fun, this French sparkler is well balanced and great by the case at parties. The Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc provide a great dry yellow apple base, with great acidity and a smooth mouth-feel. This guy is also great in all of your Champagne cocktails. It’s versatile, and the perfect price for French 75s, mimosas, or Lillet apéritifs. Top with a cordial like crème de framboise for a great before-dinner drink. Did I mention you can open it with a sword?
– David D.
Dom. de Brau, Chardonnay – 2013
This has got to be one of the best “bang for your buck” Chardonnays I have had the pleasure of drinking in quite a while. It is aged in 50% new oak, and as such has a texturally rich mouth-feel, yet is still nicely dry to finish. This great wintry white is going to be a perfect match to heartier fish dishes. Fish pie or a paella, maybe? On the nose you get lovely pear fruit, oak, and an essence of clarified butter (ghee!). The palate shows some tropical fruit, some wood spice, and, as I mentioned before, a great, plush, slightly fatty feel, which rounds out to a long, dry finish. A simple and delicious wine that I think will easily become a new go-to favorite into the fall and colder months.
– Stephen W.
Chablis, Dom. des Miles – 2011
Chablis: for some people it represents a paradox. Did you know that it is made from Chardonnay? YES, Chardonnay, and NO, it’s not going to be oaky or buttery. Chablis is a region located in the far north of Burgundy and it specializes in clean, bright, citrusy, “minerally” Chardonnay. This is bright and refreshing with really nice citrus and tropical fruit notes, but a hint richer than one might expect from Chablis. Great paired with shellfish and white fish with herbs, or as a refreshing apéritif.
– Omari W.
Crémant de Bourgogne, Moissenet-Bonnard – NV
Located in Pommard, in the Côte d’ Beaune, Jean-Louis Moissenet-Bonnard’s Crémants de Bourgogne are outstanding. Made predominantly of Pinot Noir, with a small portion of Chardonnay, these golden sparklers are the perfect option for any celebration. Light-to-medium in body, with great structure that invites you to drink glass after glass, these wines are very aromatic with flavors of toasted brioche, pears, quince, and yellow apple. Great people pleasers, with plenty of complexity.
– Patrick L.
Brea Wine Co. Chardonnay – 2013
This is a great example of a light, fresh Chardonnay. Brea uses only stainless steel to preserve freshness and acidity to create the perfect summer white from Santa Barbara. Initial notes of grapefruit, pear, and juicy green apple are followed by more exotic flavors like pineapple and apricots. All this while remaining light and focused. An excellent wine for an oyster roast or for a chicken and nectarine salad.
– Patrick L.
“Jarenincan” White blend, Crnko – 2013
Looking for your next great picnic wine? Look no further than this delightful and refreshing blend from Crnko. Every year, this wine is made from a slightly different blend of Laški Rizling, Sauvignon Blanc, Ravenec, Muscat, Müller Thurgau, and Chardonnay to create a fresh, light, endlessly drinkable wine. The 2013 doesn’t disappoint. And honestly, if you’re still not convinced, the 10% ABV and liter size should be enough to persuade you to bring this along for your next lengthy and lazy picnic.
– Nora G.R.
l’Ecole No. 41, Chardonnay – 2011
Fans of buttery Chardonnay rejoice! This Chard’s a “li’l” buttery with nice fruit that fortunately isn’t masked by the wine’s richness. It has really nice depth and notes of sesame seeds, toast, graphite, and, last but not least, tropical fruit! It possesses the brightness and structure to pair well with food as well as the roundness and quaffability to drink “just cuz!”
– Omari W.