Native to Burgundy, France, Chardonnay is celebrated by winemakers and drinkers alike for its sheer versatility. This is a grape that plays a central role in the world’s most revered sparkling wines; offers fruit notes that run the entire spectrum from citrus to tropical; and not only holds its own but thrives when dealt the transformative influences of barrel aging and malolactic fermentation.
Encapsulating that versatility and broad range of guises, this list features bottles from across the United States, and pays worthwhile visits to mainland Greece and the high altitudes of Argentina’s Uco valley. Prepare for case buys, food wines, and bottles that will kick off a night with a refreshing pop. These are 27 of the best Chardonnays to drink in 2022.
Seaglass Chardonnay 2020
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Get ready for summer by clearing space in the “cellar” and acquiring a case of this bargain Chardonnay. From Santa Barbara County, this wine saw no oak and didn’t undergo malolactic fermentation, handing center stage to stone and tropical fruit notes, and bracing acidity. Enjoy with an equally light and clean white fish crudo. Average price: $12. Rating: 88.
Bonterra Chardonnay 2020
Made using certified organic grapes, this California Chardonnay is partially fermented and aged in oak barrels but its profile remains fresh and fruity. Luscious pears and a spray of citrus set the tone on the nose, while the palate brings a hint of herby complexity. File this under: great weeknight wine or a light white to kick off the night. Average price: $14. Rating: 88.
Rodney Strong Chalk Hill 2019
In 1965, Rodney Strong introduced the first plantings of Chardonnay to the area that would eventually become the Chalk Hill AVA. The producer’s familiarity with variety and region are clear to appreciate in this rich, oaky, and balanced white. Consider this bottle a dependable, well-priced pick that you can easily find in stores. Average price: $16. Rating: 88.
Domaine Skouras Almyra Chardonnay 2020
Greece has gifted the world some exceptional native white varieties but this Chardonnay from Domaine Skouras deserves a slight detour from that path. Clean and focused, its fruit character spans citrus pith, pink grapefruit, and underripe white peaches. Those notes arrive concentrated on the palate, with a refreshing spray of citrus providing a zesty crescendo. Average price: $20. Rating: 90.
Charles Krug Winery Carneros Chardonnay 2019
From Carneros — the southernmost tip of the Napa Valley — this wine celebrates the vibrant, fruity side of Chardonnay. Citrus and tropical aromas define its nose and set up a clean and lean palate. A slight salinity and textural grip bring an enjoyable and unexpected dose of complexity, especially given the price. Average price: $21. Rating: 88.
Seghesio Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2020
Like a delicious lemon tart, this Chardonnay invites with sweet, zesty, citrus aromas. The similarities between wine and desert continue on its creamy palate, where acidity retains freshness and its 14 percent alcohol content is seamlessly incorporated. This is a standout value pick. Average price: $22. Rating: 90.
Shannon Ridge High Elevation Chardonnay 2020
From Lake County, Calif., this is an austere, fruity Chardonnay. Pear springs out on the nose, followed by muted mineral notes. The palate is soft and dry, and once again gives center stage to orchard fruit. Stick this refreshing wine in the cooler for your next picnic. Average price: $23. Rating: 88.
La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2020
Look to this bottle for a solid example of rich and creamy Chardonnay on a weeknight budget. Yogurt and lemon rind aromas combine with crisp green apples on the nose, while the palate centers on soft acidity and sweet oak. Average price: $23. Rating: 89.
Black Stallion Estate Winery Heritage Napa Valley Chardonnay 2020
Talk about a steal: This is a barrel-fermented, Napa Valley Chard that comes in at less than $25. Aged for up to seven months in oak, the wine received twice-monthly stirring on lees to enhance its creamy texture. That richness is offset by tropical fruit and flinty aromas, as well as lively acidity. This wine is an exhibition in balance and restraint. Average price: $24. Rating: 89.
Macari Vineyards Chardonnay Estate 2019
The cooler climate of the North Fork of Long Island provides the ideal setting for making fruit-forward Chardonnay — like this unaged, stainless steel bottling from Macari. Passionfruit and mango aromas mingle with steely green notes on the nose, transforming to orchard fruit and pleasingly persistent acidity on the palate. This wine has light salad written all over it. Average price: $24. Rating: 89.
Bravium Anderson Valley Chardonnay 2019
While this wine spends 10 months in French and Hungarian oak, it seems redundant to mention that, given how seamlessly incorporated those vessels’ influence are on the final wine. Rather than competing with the fruit, it seems to amplify the tropical and citrus notes that first pop on the nose and sail well onto its finish. Average price: $30. Rating: 89.
Château Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2018
A juggernaut of American winemaking, it’s somewhat fitting that this Château Ste. Michelle wine encapsulates the type of Chardonnay that’s associated with this nation. At 14.5 percent ABV, and with 96 percent of the wine encountering some form of oak, it’s an undoubtedly heady white. But the rich influence of oak, and the creamy texture provided by malolactic fermentation, are tempered by pronounced Meyer lemon notes. Each sip finishes with harmony and balance. Average price: $30. Rating: 88.
Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Estate Carneros Chardonnay 2019
Another Carneros offering, this wine is also a shining celebration of texture. The subtle fruit that presents itself is of the citrus variety, but the wonder of this wine lies in its gentle grip, confident body, and vibrant acidity. Average price: $32. Rating: 91.
Kokomo Winery Peters Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
Coastal fog in the West Sebastopol region of the Russian River Valley allows the Chardonnay grapes for this wine to remain on vines well into October, all the while developing expressive aroma and flavor compounds. Its orchard and stone fruit notes dazzle from the get go, while French oak and bracing acidity provide controlled, well-balanced opulence. For food pairings, we suggest some simple grilled chicken thighs with a peppery arugula salad. Average price: $32. Rating: 93.
Evening Lands Seven Springs Chardonnay 2019
From Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills AVA, tropical fruit and banana runt aromas spring from this Chardonnay with lovely elegance. Generous acidity on the palate makes the wine extremely refreshing and complements its broad texture. On the finish, expect notes of sherry and yeasty brioche. Average price: $35. Rating: 90.
Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2020
Sonoma’s Russian River Valley has proven caliber on the high-quality Chardonnay front, and this expression is a fine example. Ripe and baked stone fruits arrive in luxurious harmony along with the influence of 9 ½ months of French oak aging. Subtle mineral texture on the palate provides the icing on the cake for this classic California Chardonnay. Average price: $35. Rating: 89.
Smoky Rose Cellars Stainless Steel Chardonnay 2020
A mildly oxidative note brings a sherry-like whiff to the nose of this 100 percent stainless steel Chardonnay, but equally present are lean and crisp orchard fruit aromas. The palate provides a captivating exploration of minerality and texture. Enjoy this with a creamy goat cheese. Average price: $35. Rating: 88.
Chamisal Vineyards Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2018
This Chardonnay is all about texture, with creamy, buttery aromas previewing the experience that awaits in glass. Each soft and velvety sip arrives with mild acidity, amplifying subtle mineral notes that reign in its weighty viscosity. Enjoy with a rich risotto or classic roast chicken dinner. Average price: $38. Rating 89.
Balletto Vineyards Twin Ridges Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
A shining example of responsible oak use, this Chardonnay treads a delicate path between bright fruit notes and subtle richness. White flowers combine with a sprinkling of vanilla on the nose, while the palate serves racy acidity and well rounded texture around a stone fruit core. This release is a wine club exclusive, but Balletto consistently produces excellent wines, so signing up might not be such a bad idea. Average price: $39. Rating: 92.
Landmark Vineyards Damaris Reserve Chardonnay 2019
This heady Sonoma Coast Chardonnay spent 14 months in French oak and arrives in bottle at 14.2 percent ABV. But there’s undeniable balance on show, provided by candied Meyer lemon notes, mouthwatering acidity, and a kiss of vanilla on the finish. Average price: $40. Rating: 89.
Early Mountain Quaker Run Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
The Quaker Run Vineyard is a relatively new site for Early Mountain, a Virginia winery that offers a bounty of high quality varietal wines. Aged for one year on lees in European oak casks, the wine then spends an additional 5 months on lees in stainless steel. Its profile is rich — as expected from the style of winemaking — but concentrated orchard fruit notes shine bright throughout. Average price: $42. Rating: 94.
Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Vineyard Chardonnay 2018
The top-of-the-range permanent expression of Chardonnay from Sonoma-Cutrer, this wine captures the American ideal of the variety in glass (and bottle). Aged for a total of 13 months, with regular lees stirring during that time, the wine dances between concentrated fresh fruit and soft, creamy, butter on nose and palate. Average price: $45. Rating: 89.
Flowers Vineyards & Winery Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019
From Sonoma Coast, this 100 percent French oak Chardonnay is remarkably perfumed. Honeysuckle and apricot aromas lead to round, honeyed richness on the palate. Bright acidity cuts through each sip, bringing stone fruit and white flowers to the fore once more. This fine wine requires no food but you’ll want to taste it with a bountiful summer salad. Average price: $50. Rating: 91.
Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019
From the producer that put Cali Chardonnay on the map, following success in the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, this is an exceptional bottle. Oak influence is finely woven into vibrant peach and honeysuckle aromas. An incredible depth of fruit on the palate is seasoned by chalky mineral notes and zingy acidity. This bottle is a must-buy. Average price: $59. Rating: 97.
Maggy Hawk Skycrest Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
From Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, this small-production wine serves a high-definition expression of Chardonnay. A creamy nose suggests it went through full or partial malolactic fermentation, and the sweet scent marries nicely with stone fruit scents and a hint of white pepper. Acidity, alcohol, and fruit character land in equal proportions on the palate. Average price: $60. Rating: 90.
Hirsch Vineyards Hirsch Estate Chardonnay 2020
Simply put, this is one of the finest American Chardonnays available right now. Produced from 100 percent estate fruit, native yeasts propel fermentation, while the majority of aging takes place in French and Austrian oak. Savory dried herbs and green leaf notes build layers of complexity upon its tart fruit and floral core. The wine’s texture is round, its alcohol content does not register, and the finish doesn’t linger but instead sets up camp for the long haul. What a fine Chardonnay this is. Average price: $65. Rating: 96.
Zuccardi Valle de Uco Fosil Chardonnay 2020
Grown at close to 1,500 meters above sea level in Argentina’s Uco Valley, this bright, grippy wine showcases both elevation and the complex composition of the soil in which the grapevines are planted. Minerality is a constant theme throughout and is afforded prominence in the wine by muted stone fruit notes that let rocks and texture do all the talking. It’s a little pricey but wine lovers and soil nerds will devour this one. Average price: $65. Rating: 90.