It’s amazing the stigma that chardonnay still carries among many wine drinkers. The amount of ABCs (Anything But Chardonnays) I encounter still amazes me. Especially when you consider that many of the world’s best wines are made from this prodigious and versatile grape.
A lot of it is from ignorance, of course. ‘So you don’t want chardonnay? How about Chablis?’
‘Oh yes, that would be lovely, thanks.’
Duh. Imagine a world where you’d say anything but… Montrachet? Or anything but Meursault. Or Pouilly-Fuissé. Or Champagne (at least, a good deal of it). Exactly.
And that's just wines from France. If you’ve never tried a chardonnay from the US, then you’re really missing out.
Here are three that should make even the most hardened ABC reconsider their position…
Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay, 2017
Kendall-Jackson is one of the biggest names in Californian wine making – and its Vintner’s Reserve is a quintessential new world chardonnay.
It’s a great introduction to Californian chardonnay in particular – a greatest hits compilation, if you will – taking its grapes from Monterey (50%), Santa Barbara 33%, Mendocino (16%) and Sonoma (1%).
The result is wine characterised by a velvety texture, toasted oak and lashings of butter.
This richness is counterpointed with tropical fruits including pineapple, mango and papaya, with plenty of refreshing citrus, too.
It’s rounded off with vanilla and honey for what is the most balanced US chardonnay you’ll find anywhere for less than £20.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay, 2017, £19, winedirect.co.uk
La Crema Monterey Chardonnay, 2017
La Crema Vinera means “best of the vine” – and that’s the benchmark this Moneterey County winery has set itself since it launched back in 1979.
The 90-mile long Monterey Valley stretches from Monterey Bay, through farmland and rolling hills, and is always buffeted by the cold winds that sweep in off the Pacific Ocean.
The coolness means that the grapes spend more time on the vine, which allows a deeper, more dramatic spectrum of flavours and aromas to develop.
La Crema’s chardonnay is the embodiment of this – a rich, layered wine that’s smooth and elegant while still maintaining a zesty brightness.
La Crema Monterey Chardonnay, £21, jeraboams.co.uk
Gran Moraine Chardonnay, 2016
Oregon is producing some of the most exciting wines in the US at the moment – the region is growing from success to success.
The Gran Moraine is a perfect example of this: planted in 2005 to several different Dijon clones, this is one of the more westerly vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The area benefits from the cooling afternoon breezes that roll off the Pacific – ideal for grape growing.
The chardonnay is hand-harvested and benefits from gentle, whole-cluster pressing. This traditional technique allows winemakers to capture the freshest and most pristine juice.
A lengthy 12 months of natural fermentation in Burgundian oak barrels follows.
And you’re left with that perfect balance you want from a chardonnay – minerality meeting richness, citrus meeting stone.
Gran Moraine Chardonnay, 2016, £56, bgwm.co.uk