What didn’t surprise me as much was the quality that these fairly large production wines achieved. It wasn’t too long ago that this sort of quality cost a pretty penny, but competition and a lousy economy have put a lot of pressure on pricing. If there is any silver lining to be found, it’s that consumers now have access to an amazing array of great $20 wines.
Take a peak at the this list of Chardonnays and grab one to share with your loved ones this holiday season!
Photo courtesy Dinner Series via Flickr/CC
2009 Trefethen Chardonnay Oak Knoll District Napa Valley 13.5% $26
Nutty, smoky and vanilla toned on the nose, though not particularly sweet smelling. Fruit shows hints of kiwi, peach and Asian pear. This is rather elegant on entry. It’s taut and rich, with a fine vein of acidity lending lift in the mouth, but stays within the soft, enveloping blanket of yellow fruits, peach skin and lemon pith fruit that’s wrapped up in creamy, vanilla and crème brûlée oak. Lovely balance and a sense of refinement here, though the finish is a bit clipped. With air, this lengthens a bit, I’m sure it just needed a little more to show its all. Nicely done. 91pts
2009 Groth Chardonnay Napa Valley 14.5% $26
Low on the nose with sweet crème brûlée, apple, floral and barrel light leesy aromas. Superb balance in the mouth. This has a round, creamy edge and fine cut. It’s not a small-scaled wine, but it is light on the palate, delivering fine and taut, lightly spiced apple and pineapple fruit. The oak is very well integrated, though it does lend the moderate finish a touch of licorice bitterness. More of a textural wine, though the elegance is appealing. 89pts
2009 Clos Pegase Mitsuko’s Vineyard Chardonnay Carneros Napa Valley 14.1% $22
Floral and pretty on the nose with hints of lemon verbena, tarragon, pollen and vanilla accenting the sweet red apple and pear fruit. Medium-bodied but rich and creamy, with a fine core of ripe apple and almost peachy fruit accented with a touch of wood spice, some honeycomb and a low note of fennel seed. There’s real succulent acidity here, so even though this is creamy and rich, it’s refreshing and remains focused right through modest and lightly oaky finish. Shows style and elegance. 89pts
2010 Decoy Chardonnay Sonoma County 13.5% $18
Very perfumy on the nose. Notes of butcher’s wax, pollen and honeycomb accent the clear pineapple fruit that has a touch of green apple skin to it. Very bright up front then turning a bit round and soft on the mid-palate, this is an easy wine to appreciate. Rather front-loaded with fruit and gentle wood spice which lends a touch of honeycomb sweetness to this. The back end shows of solid acids which brighten the modest finish. This may not live long so enjoy it now. 88pts
2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Napa Valley 14.5% $18
A bit flat on the nose but creamy and ripe, with slightly exotic mango and pineapple aromas topped with a toasty note and hints of wood spice. This is big with flavors that seem distinctly ripe and evocative of dried figs early on, but then gives way to rather lean and simple apple fruit. This is easy to drink and finishes with a bit more wood spice notes. Seems to lack intensity, though it has plenty of size. Easy and simple. 85pts
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