Chardonnay $12-$20

8 wines at a great price point


There’s a real jump up in quality once you pass the $12 mark in Chardonnay. It’s actually surprising what a twenty can get you, whether you’re looking for a rich, bold style like the 2010 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay or something a little fresher like the bright, focused 2008 from Gloria Ferrer.

While this is predominantly a list of California Chardonnays, there are wonderful wines at this price point from around the world. The 2009 Rustenberg, 2010 Lange Willamette Valley and 2009 Faiveley Montagny are just a few. So take a look around, kick the tires a bit and give some of these bad boys a test drive. You won’t be sorry!

Photo courtesy Thomas Hawk via Flickr/CC

2008 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 13.5% $18

This is really lovely on the nose, with notes of pear fruit accented by floral tones, soft, sweet caramel/nutty wood spice, vanilla and dried lime zest. Lovely in the mouth as well, this combines richness with a certain inner mouth tension. The fruit is fresh and bright, framed with juicy acidity, all over a lightly crème brulee, candied ginger oak, but the wine is not creamy. The finish shows an equally light touch, airy with integrated wood spice over bright quince and citrus with a touch of minerality on the finale. This is my kind of California Chardonnay. 91pts

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2010 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Chardonnay 14.5% $18

This greets the nose with notes of fresh cream, lime, a pinch of nutmeg and vanilla, all over deeply layered fruit. Pretty rich on the palate with supporting acids, this definitely makes in impression. There’s a fine creaminess to the texture here. Crème brûlée notes on the palate support flavors of ginger, pineapple and pithy citrus fruits. This is very well balanced, there are no edges and the oak plays a supporting role right through the moderately long apple and grapefruit pith finish, ending with a burst of bright spiciness. This is a bit more Chardonnay than I prefer in my glass but the quality is undeniable. 91pts

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2009 Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay South Africa 13.5% $18

This is frankly oaky on the nose but lovely notes of flowers, citrus, Asian pear and bitter melon make a strong showing as well. Rather tight and firm on entry, this shows nice restraint but does not lack richness. There’s real depth here with the acid and mineral elements of the wine keeping things fresh and focused. Leesy oak notes add layers of buffering material with the crisp, ripe sweet apple and tart peach flavors. The finish shows liveliness with good flavor persistence to the fresh, clean fruit that’s supported by a nice base of wood spice. Lovely cut and persistence on the finish even if the oak is hanging in there until the final moment. 91pts

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2010 Lange Willamette Valley Chardonnay Oregon 13% $16

Clean and fresh on the nose with almond lotion tones under crisp pear and lime fruit. This is lightweight and fresh on the palate, with a finely integrated yet zesty vein of acidity. The flavors run to the crisp white orchard fruit end of the spectrum, white peaches and pear topped with citrus notes. This turns just a little rounded on the back end but never gains any unnecessary weight. The finish is pure and crisp with more white orchard fruit tones over river stone minerality. 90pts

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2008 Byron Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay California 14.5% $15

This smells a bit of soil and rocks, with notes of pressed flowers and dried banana peel over nutty dried apple fruit. Bright in the mouth yet showing an edge of creaminess on the mid-palate. Notes of butterscotch and crème brûlée accent the modest core of apple and pear fruit. The oak influence is obvious but sweet here, and that sweetness really pops on the finish where this wine kicks things into another gear. Really strong fruit, nut and oak spice finish is lovely. 89pts

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  • Snooth User: natan
    874555 0

    why there no israeli wine? yarden winery have one of the best organic chardonnay

    Jan 24, 2012 at 4:41 PM

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