Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

Editor at Snooth Happy to answer all your wine related questions.

Chardonnay for $20-$30

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Alta Maria Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley (2009)
Comments: This is kind of subtle on the nose with aromas of almond, peach and orange slowly rising from the glass. It has a distinctly perfume quality with floral and aromatic wood tones. Very lavender. Rather focused in the mouth with lovely purity to the peach, apple and vaguely citrus flavors that are surrounded by soft wood tones. The texture is bright with a creamy, leesy edge that pops on the mid-palate but recedes as the wine regains tension on the back end and through the moderately long finish. This finish shows more peachy fruit and a slightly more aggressive, toasty oak profile, though it’s still a very harmonious wine. Damn, this is good. 93pts
Previously available for $22.39
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2 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay Walker Bay (2010)
Comments: This is obviously oaky on the nose with notes of cedar, toasted dark bread and butter cream, but the underlying apple and melon fruit is almost as assertive. On entry, this shows a rare combination of power and transparency, and while the oak is assertive the fruit is almost keeping apace. Toasty, nutty notes on the palate are underpinned by rich apple fruit. A touch of kiwi and green melon on the back end lead to a beautifully defined finish that shows oak and mineral notes under a fan of green fruit. This is really very fine. 93pts
Average price: $28.99 from 8 stores
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3 Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills Sta. Rita Hills El Jabali Vineyard (2009)
Comments: Pretty nose with bright pear fruit and hint of nectarine all wrapped with gentle floral tones, lime zest, honeycomb and a band of soft sandalwood spice. Bright up front then turning rather rounded and supple, with nice intensity of flavors. This is elegant and very focused if a bit subtle and easily lost in a crowd, though with food this could really shine. 92pts
Previously available for $15.99
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4 Dutton-Goldfield Chardonnay Russian River Valley Rued Vineyard (2009)
Comments: Very pretty on the nose, subtle but complex with notes of flowers, integrated wood, cheese rind, lightly waxy orchard fruits and a little tropical citrus. Love this on entry, bright, broad and tall, but really clear and well defined. The fruit here is fresh and pure with the orchard fruit of the nose framed by light dried tangerine peels and a hint of vanilla cream. The texture turns a bit creamy with air but never gets weighty and the subtle spice of wood adds some nice accents on the back end and pops on the long finish, accenting the almost peachy fruit on the finale. Delicious. 92pts
Previously available for $39.99
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5 Lange Estate Winery Chardonnay "Three Hills Cuvee" (2010)
Comments: Intense and fresh on the nose, this explodes with fresh citrus notes, kiwi peel, salty mineral elements and lovely Asian pear and acacia aromas all topped with gentle toasty spice. Reticent on entry, this is rather laid back early on with vivid acids that slowly lift up the fine, pure fruit. Shows grapefruit, melon and pear fruit, maybe a hint of guava as well. This is just a touch creamy, with a nice accent of wood spice that helps transition to the finish. Very long finish. This is elegant and refined, another wine easy lose in a crowd, but one that really rewards examination. 92pts
Previously available for $29.74
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6 Jordan Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley (2009)
Comments: Rather low on the nose, with lemon peel and soil base notes supporting a gentle top note of vanilla cream and apricot. This has lovely bright acids and soft creaminess working against each other to keep things tight in the mouth. The oak is noticeable but clean, adding lightly toasty spice notes to the core of apple fruit. The finish shows a bit more oak early on, but the citrus character of the wine powers through on the long finale with a subtle hint of refreshing minerality. 91pts
Average price: $28.99 from 15 stores
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