It’s National Chardonnay Day…

so I’m taking a hiatus from this week’s theme to celebrate the “great white grape.” Let’s just keep this fun and simple with a few of my top favs…Cheers!

Best Grocery Store Finds:

This category goes to the best, affordable Chardonnays found at most major grocery stores, priced between $10 – $30 (depending on store and sales).

  1. Top spot in this category has to go to Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay. This is by far my favorite “non-thinking” Chardonnay — as in, I don’t have to think about it, I know it’s going to be good. The flavors, the textures, the feeling of joy I have while sipping a chilled glass of this. Bonus point: Sale price is just $15. Damn…I think I’ve got to restock! Read the full review.
  2.  A close second is Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay. This is a great one if you’re super in the mood for that typical Cal-oaky Chardonnay, but don’t want a complete butter-bomb. Round, full, with just enough acid to highlight the fruits — drink this one at room temp to enjoy the full benefits. Sale Price: $15. Read the full review.
  3. This one is a bit of an indulgence at a price point of $30, but totally worth it. The Chalk Hill Chardonnay offers a bit of that old world funk — that taste and texture of a well-aged cheese, truffled butter, and earthiness from the farm. Read the full review.
  4. Another price point “cheat” for this category, as $25 is what you’ll pay for a half bottle of this William Fevre Chablis. Also, as a side note, I purchased this at a local, independent shop in downtown SF and have not actually seen it at a Safeway, TJ’s or what have you. But I’m putting it here anyway because if you happen to come upon it at your local shop, pick it up and revel in the fact that you can enjoy the whole bottle without too much guilt. Read the full review.

Best Winery Finds:

This category is for those Chardonnays that you’ll have to either purchase online or visit the winery itself. Trust me, I wouldn’t even include this category if the wines were worth the trek…

  1. Top spot in this category has to go to Lombardi Wines Chardonnay. This single-vineyard Chardonnay, from the 3 Starrs Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast, was aged in neutral French oak. So smooth and full it is, but it maintains a high level of kicky acidity that truly maintains the integrity of the fruit. There’s also an innate earthiness found in the background — so “non white wine drinkers,” you may actually enjoy this one. Read the full review.
  2. Wildhurst Vineyards is in that seemingly remote wine region Lake County. The downtown Kelseyville tasting room has just undergone a recent renovation, but the winery’s commitment to Old World style wines is strong. The Wildhurst Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay is worth the trip to the town with no wifi. Read the full review.
  3. This is also a bit of a cheat for this category, since I have actually seen Ancient Oaks at Safeway…once. Actually, winemaker Ken Moholt-Siebert was at my local Safeway promoting his own wines shortly after I had met him and his family at the SF Pinot Days event. Since then, I haven’t seen AO at Safeway, so odds are they’d be hard to find at your local grocery store. But go online, place an order, or visit their Sonoma farm for some family, food, and — oh yeah — wine! Read the full review.

Best Chardonnay to save for a special occasion:

Sorry guys, these wines won’t have reviews attached. I know National Chardonnay Day is a holiday in our culture, but these are wines worth saving for something — and someone — truly special. These are also wines that will need to be sought out at the winery — I promise they’re worth the trip and worth the wait.

  1. Flanagan Wines Bacigalupi Chardonnay 2014 — What I can tell you is this: The Bacigalupi’s have been farming grapes since before it was cool to grow grapes along the Russian River Valley. And they virtually put the area on the wine-making map, despite not being winemakers themselves until the early 2000s: It was their grapes that were used in the famous Chateau Montelena’s winning Chardonnay of the 1976 Judgement of Paris. So suffice it to say, with this legendary reputation, Bacigalupi grapes are not easy to come by. Eric Flanagan produces and elegant Chardonnay that pays respect to both the produce and the family. Read the full Flanagan Winery Review and the full Bacigalupi Vineyards Review.
  2. Rochioli 2015 Chardonnay — The Rochioli’s are another winemaking family legend. On a recent visit to the winery, I was intrigued by this Chardonnay. It’s light, lively, and approachable and yet there was something about the balance of acidity and oak that gave the wine a “young” taste and feel. I know white wines aren’t stereotypically “ageable,” but this one totally is. I wouldn’t wait excessively long — just 2 to 3 years — but I imagine time will allow all those flavors to smooth over and flow even more delicately. If I can wait that long… 

Happy National Chardonnay Day! Did I miss something? What’s your favorite Chardonnay?

 


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