A Baker’s Dozen: $30 Chardonnay

Top bottlings for savvy holiday shoppers

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

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Top 6 Chardonnay Tasted 10/13

Eyrie Chardonnay (2011)
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Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay Carneros (2012)
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Chappellet Chardonnay "Estate" (2011)
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Mauritson Wines Chardonnay Alexander Valley (2012)
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Elyse Chardonnay (2011)
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Schug Chardonnay Carneros (2012)
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  • Snooth User: DM94523
    77883 104

    Wine industry icon Jean-Charles Boisset makes some fantastic Chardonnay under his JCB Wines label. I recommend the 2010 vintage of JCB #81 ($28)! Get it here:

    Nov 19, 2013 at 7:49 PM

  • Snooth User: Scorpio
    1356846 15

    Explain to me because I am not that knowledgeable what wines red and white have more of a sweet flavor. I prefer the reds, like sweet blackberry etc.

    Nov 21, 2013 at 10:35 AM

  • Snooth User: VanTilrl1
    555186 47

    Very very disappointed that there aren't French wines on this list. Where are the classics from?

    Nov 23, 2013 at 9:27 PM

  • Snooth User: ChefJune
    359212 33

    You left out the very lovely 2012 Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches @ $27 (but only from the winery).

    Nov 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,287

    Scorpio, in the United States, anything labeled "Late Harvest" (either red or white) is going to be sweet.

    If you live in the U.S. south, look for Muscadine wine. Muscadine is an indigenous grape variety that is made into both red and white wines--there's probably a rose out there, also. This will be confusing, but my understanding is that some wineries make dry versions of Muscadine. So, I guess you have to experiment. I live in the west and had never seen Muscadine on store shelves, but I was in North Carolina this weekend and had nice examples of red and white.

    I've never had it, but I'm pretty sure that Moscato, which seems to be on every store shelf these days, is sweet.

    Nov 26, 2013 at 4:28 PM

  • What about Rombauer or the Mersolie Reserve?

    Nov 26, 2013 at 9:21 PM

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