Top 10 Chardonnay vintages for under $15
Ahhhh...Chardonnay...this is the wine that brings to mind sunny summer afternoons, sitting in the shade sipping a cold glass of wine. Light, refreshing, great accompaniment to most lighter foods. Chardonnay is one of the most popular of wines...which I think is great in that it is available pretty much everywhere, but also is dangerous in that we become accustomed to drinking any old Chardonnay and thinking that just because it tastes good (as most of them do) that we have experienced all that they have to offer....how very far from the truth that is!
Due to its relatively mild flavor and high sugar content, Chardonnay is sort of the Pizza of wine....i.e. even when it is bad, it is still pretty good...For this list, I wanted to bring out some truly great Chardonnays, wines that are not only pleasant, but that have character, that will make you sit up and say...wow...this is Chardonnay?
If you have read my other hubs, you will know that I buy pretty much all of my wine (other than what I get from my local wineries) from Wine.com. I am a pretty big fan of them, I have been using them for several years, they consistently have the best prices, straight forward ordering and delivery (check out the unlimited shipping for a year for $49) AND I like knowing where I can get a wine. Nothing is more annoying then getting a great recommendation for a wine that you can't find even after driving all over town!
#1 Lake Sonoma Russian River Chardonnay 2007
Hands down one of the best Chardonnays I have ever had. This is just a great all around wine at a fantastic price. Better than many that I have had for more than double the price. This wine is grown in the same area as many of the great California Pinot Noirs and I think that the cooler climate really brings out some great flavors. The quality of the fruit combined with the whole cluster maceration gives this wine a mellow, creamy base but with a little kick of spice.
As with most Chardonnays, great for sipping alone or with poultry, pork, fish, fruits and cheeses. I am also a big fan of a glass with a piece of berry pie or tart.
#2 Angove's Red Belly Black Chardonnay 2006 Australia
I about fell over when I saw the price for this wine....$7.99??? Really? I was very tempted to give this my #1 spot just because of the enormous value...we are talking about a James Halliday 92 Point wine for $8 bucks?? The antifreeze they try to sell as Chardonnay at Walmart is about that much! A great wine with a little more kick than most. Vanilla, cream, spices (nutmeg and cinnamon) with some great citrus undertones. Maybe not as refined as some of the others, but for the price, a FANTASTIC wine!
This is a great wine for foods that may normally be a little overpowering for Chardonnay. Think duck, lamb, maybe steak, pizza, BBQ, Thai or spicy Chinese.
$7.99 at Wine.com
#3 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay 2008
Wow....when you think race-horses, pedigree means everything....the same is not always true for wine...but when you have a pedigree like Columbia Crest...chances are that the new lot of 2008 is going to be fantastic! Every year from 1999 to 2007 this winery has produced a 89 point or higher Chardonnay. The 2008 is certainly going to continue that tradition. This is a very smooth wine with lots of floral and citrus but with a nice backing of cream and butter.
Fantastc traditional chardonnay for fish, poultry, fruit and light cheeses!
$11.99 at Wine.com
#4 Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2007 Sonoma
Ok, so I admit it, I am not a big fan of the mega-wineries.....and I know, I really should stay open minded especially as the entire reason I started doing wine reviews is because of how annoyed I was with the snooty-ness of most reviews...well, this wine sure made me sit up and take notice. WOW! Just a fantastic all around wine. I also manged to get a bottle of 2006 which was also stellar, but I think the 2007 is better and much more accessible.
Nice melon flavors with small amount of citrus and vanilla and a great finish where you get that nice oak and nut flavor that is so rare in a modestly priced Chardonnay.
$13.99 at Wine.com
#5 Buehler Russian River Chardonnay 2008
Here is another wine from a fantastic winery with six wines ranking 88 points or higher in the past 10 years. Russian River is perhaps THE premier chardonnay growing area in California and this is a wine right from its very heart. A very smooth wine with nice fruit flavors against a velvet smooth texture and small amount of toasted bread.
I paired this with a pear reduction sauce pork loin and was in heaven!
$14.99 at Wine.com
#6 Chateau Saint Michelle Chardonnay 2006 Columbia Valley
Yet another great wine from another great winemaker and winery! 2006 was a stellar year for Pacific Northwest vineyards and the wines from that vintage really show VERY well. This is a great, mellow chardonnay that will work with pretty much any poultry or fish meal and that goes VERY well with pasta. Sweeter than many of the other but with a nice edge of oakiness and citrus.
$11.29 at Wine.com
#7 Cameron Hughes Evergreen Chardonnay 2006
This is a very interesting wine in that it is actually a blend of 5 different lots from two different wineries that are priced at more than double this wine's modest $12.99 price-tag! Sourced from fruit grown in Carneros CA, this is truly a fantastic find if you want high-end California Chardonnay for a bargain price. Smooth, creamy with citrus and kiwi undertones. Fantastic wine for fish, and poultry.
$12.99 at Wine.com
#8 Francis Coppola Diamond Chardonnay 2008
A great wine from the winery of a great director! Francis Ford Coppola purchased the old Inglenook estate in the mid 70s and has been cranking out stellar wines ever since! the 2007 vintage of this wine received 88 points from Wine and Spirits and 2008 looks to be even better. Nice creamy, buttery wine with cinnamon tones and a pear/apple finish.
Pair with one of his great movies for a truly cool experience!
$14.99 at Wine.com
#9 Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2007 France
One of the only french wines on the list..Fat Bastard is just as much fun to drink as it is to say! My main issue with French wines in general is that they are simply over-priced. They can be great wines, but I do not often find them priced comparably to equivalently good New World wines....it seems we are paying more just because they are from France...which is probably true...I am pretty sure when I was in college I would order a french wine to impress a date even if it both cost more and was WORSE than a domestic...ahhhh thank goodness for maturity!!
Anyway, this is a great wine at a great price! A bit bolder than many of the other Chardonnays, it has nice fruit flavors with some vanilla tones and a bit of toasted oak. Fantastic wine for a slightly spicy pasta dish and goes GREAT with sushi!
$10.29 at Wine.com
#10 Veramonte Chardonnay Reserva 2007
The only wine in our list from South Africa....not because they don't make great wines, but simply because the prices of those great wines is usually more than our great domestics! A little fruitier than many of the other entries, this is almost a dessert wine. Lots of fruit, melon and floral flavors. A very refreshing wine and for the price definitely something I would recommend to try out....note, my girlfriend loves fruitier wines and she LOVES this wine!
$9.99 at Wine.com
Runner Up - Sterling Organic Chardonnay 2007
For the runners-up I try to give a chance to a different take on wine. For the Chardonnay I picked a totally organic blend from Medecino county California. Organic wine sounds great but is VERY difficult to accomplish due to the many challenges that face growers and winemakers at every step of the process. This is a great wine and the fact that it is also organic just makes it that much cooler.
Nice fruity body but with undertones of vanilla and spices and a little oakie nuttiness. This wine is on the lighter side and goes great with the usual lighter foods. I paired with grilled cod and red-potatoes...fantastic!!
$14.29 at Wine.com
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