Chardonnay is the world’s most popular white wine, yet finding good value Chardonnay is often a real challenge. For whatever reason, perhaps its popularity, Chardonnay tends to be more expensive than other comparable wines and inexpensive Chardonnay has a tendency to be dreadful stuff. Perhaps I overstate my case there a bit, but the truth is that there is nothing I dread more, or have dreaded more throughout my professional career in wine, than the days I have to taste inexpensive Chardonnay.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are delightful examples out there that are well priced and the quality of all these wines is moving in the right direction. Where cheap Chardonnay used to smell and taste of tin cans and tuna fish, today you might find green olive juice instead! Hey, at least it’s a fruit instead of Chicken of the Sea.
So, every so often I brace for the worst and start popping bottles. Basically, your choices for inexpensive Chardonnay are limited to sweet, soft wines that are easy to drink but taste an awful lot like some fruit juice concoction. The new genre of unoaked Chardonnay saves vintners money as opposed to using expensive barrels instead. It also saves their wines from the barrel “alternatives” (which are what make many of the other wines taste like concoctions). Finally there are some simple, fresh and attractive wines out there, the trick is finding them!
Photo courtesy of prayitno via Flickr/cc
That’s where I come in. You may not have a palate that aligns well with mine, but at least you’ll be able to find the style of wine you’re interested in, whether it’s something fresh and delightful, or richer and sweeter. This doesn’t necessarily appeal to my palate, but I can see the appeal of the style. With that, I leave you with my top picks for Chardonnay under $15.