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The 30 Best Chardonnays for 2024

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine on earth. The grape is a near-blank canvas, capable of being produced in a gamut of different styles. Chardonnay grapes are somewhat resilient, low-maintenance in the vineyard, and easy to grow in almost any climate. Travel to any wine region in the world, you will find at least one vineyard growing Chardonnay.

Chardonnay In 60 Seconds

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety that is native to Burgundy, France.
Chardonnay can be produced in a youthful, fruity style that’s ready to be drunk soon after bottling. Complex, barrel-fermented bottles are capable of aging for years.
Chardonnay wines are medium- to full-bodied and pair with a range of simple or complex foods.
In France, Chardonnay is labeled by the region in which it is grown, like Chablis. It is also a key variety in Champagne.

The Origins of Chardonnay

Winemakers in Burgundy realized early on that Chardonnay has a relatively neutral profile and a unique knack for expressing the essence of the land. This concept, known as terroir, allows for qualities derived from things like climate, soil, and even the local foliage to be expressed in the glass. White Burgundy enjoys worldwide acclaim for its elegance; in Champagne, the grape provides finesse and balance and is the star variety in the region’s Blanc de Blancs wines.

No two places that grow Chardonnay produce the same expression, yet every region finds it is relatively easy to grow. This discovery has helped the grape spread across the world.

What Chardonnay Tastes Like From Different Climates

Climate can have a massive impact on Chardonnay’s final profile. Chardonnay from cooler regions such as Burgundy, Coastal Chile, New Zealand, and Oregon exude lighter notes of quince, lemon and yellow apple. Warmer climates like California, South Africa, and South Australia produce Chardonnay that expresses ripe, tropical flavors of pineapple, apricot, and star fruit.

The Various Styles of Chardonnay

VinePair’s list of 30 Best Chardonnays shows that top-tier Chardonnay can come from all corners of the globe. But they can also be quite contrasting in style. This is partially due to winemaking choices, like letting the wine go through malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic fermentation (or MLF) is the process in which malic acid gets converted into a softer lactic acid. This transformation imparts the buttery notes that are associated with some styles of Chardonnay. Wines that do not go through MLF have more dominant green fruit flavors like apple or pear.

Much like discovering how adaptive the grape is to different regions of the world, winemakers also found Chardonnay is incredibly responsive to oak aging. Oak plays a huge determining factor in the wine’s final profile. Winemakers who opt for a crisp and fresh wine use stainless steel to ferment and store their wines, limiting the amount of oxygen contact. Winemakers seeking a fuller-bodied style use oak aging to impart flavors like  vanilla, coconut, and baking spice. The levels in which they can choose to do so are near endless. French oak barrels impart more subtle flavors than those made of American oak. Balance can be further manipulated by choosing to use second- or third-use oak barrels, and selecting to age some of the wine in oak and the rest in stainless steel. From 5 percent to its entirety, the combinations are near-infinite.

Unoaked expressions took somewhat of a back seat through the 1980s and 1990s, while a fuller “butter bomb” style California Chardonnay flourished. Highly expressive flavors of toast, spice, clove, and vanilla were all the rage. But with every trend, comes its downturn and consumers eventually turned their nose up to the over-oaked style.

Today, the practice of over-oaking Chardonnay has pretty much stopped not only in California but also worldwide. Most winemakers use only a portion of new barrels for fermentation and aging. The result is a more balanced wine, reminiscent of a Burgundian-style Chardonnay, with just a kiss of vanilla and complexity. This style saves money for producers, limiting the need for new, expensive barrels every vintage — so it’s win-win all round.

How To Pair Chardonnay With Food

Due to its wide array of styles and profiles, Chardonnay can pair with almost every kind of food. Lighter, unoaked Chardonnay, like Chablis, is a great match for fresh cheese or delicate seafood. Medium-bodied expressions hold their own with poultry, pork tenderloin, or aged cheeses. Higher-alcohol or full-bodied Chardonnay pairs well with entrées with a rich cream sauce or even grilled meats.

The 30 Best Chardonnays for 2024

Chardonnay has come a long way from its home in France’s Burgundy. This versatile grape is known for its ability to thrive in a range of environments, from the cool-climate of Chablis to the volcanic soils of the Sierra Foothills and the sun-soaked vineyards of Australia.

Chardonnay is also frequently referred to as “the winemaker’s grape,” as the variety provides a great canvas for different techniques and styles. So these wines can offer a wide variety of expressions in aroma, structure, and texture, depending on what the winemaker is going for. They can be crisp and mineral-driven or round and weighty, and this list runs the gamut. Some of these Chardonnays are incredibly age-worthy — a few are already showing their ability to age gracefully — but there’s no doubt they could all be enjoyed now as well.

We tasted crowd-pleasers and case-buys as well as splurges and special-occasion finds. We basically have you covered across the entire spectrum. These are 30 of the best Chardonnays to drink in 2024.

The Best Chardonnays Under $25

Nielson Chardonnay 2022

This Chardonnay from California’s Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties is as enjoyable and refreshing as it is affordable. It has a great balance between roundness and salinity. The palate has refreshing acidity, balancing the depth of fruit.

Average price: $17
Rating: 92

Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars Chardonnay 2021

This winery boasts three generations of winemaking in New York’s Finger Lakes, and it comes through in the wine. It’s all about texture here with a subtle nose and a soft, deep mouthfeel supported by fresh acidity.

Average price: $17
Rating: 90

Fox Run Vineyards Kaiser Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay 2021

New York’s Finger Lakes region is known for its crisp and expressive Rieslings, but Fox Run is ready to show what Finger Lakes Chardonnay is capable of. This bottling from the winery’s oldest vineyard — planted by vineyard manager John Kaiser in 1984 — shows an impressive depth. It has just the right amount of oak, with inviting toasty aromas on the nose. The palate is deep, delicious, and balanced with quenching, juicy fruit.

Average price: $18
Rating: 91

Sister’s Run Sunday Slippers Chardonnay 2022

Australia’s McLaren Vale region is known for its Shiraz, but wow, can winemaker Elena Brooks make a unique and delicious Chardonnay here. The nose shows inviting notes of guava and a touch of spice. When you add the refreshing acidity, you know you have a gem on your hands.

Average price: $20
Rating: 93

Best Chardonnays Under $50

Nathan K. Chardonnay 2021

Nathan Kendall, VinePair’s 2023 Next Wave winner for winemaker of the year, can’t stop, won’t stop making beautifully structured wines with a sense of place. This enticing Finger Lakes Chardonnay has a mineral-driven nose with soft, pithy fruit. The palate shows great balance between salinity and a rounded texture.

Average price: $30
Rating: 92

Le Doubblé Troubblé Wine Co. Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay 2021

Le Doubblé Troubblé Wine Co. was founded by friends who share a passion for wine, skiing, and trouble, and their fun attitude always comes through in their wines. This bottle from the Columbia Gorge AVA is mineral-driven on the nose with mild fruit and a hint of oak. It’s balanced and soft with good depth on the palate.

Average price: $30
Rating: 92

Koehler-Ruprecht Kallstadter Annaberg Chardonnay Spätlese Trocken 2021

We don’t often think about Chardonnay when we think of German wine. But Koehler-Ruprecht works with a 120-year-old organically farmed Chardonnay vineyard that produces a wine with impressive verve. The nose is mineral-driven with subtle notes of citrus fruit. The wine has an extremely balanced palate, with beautiful texture and a slight tannic grip.

Average price: $34
Rating: 95

Domaine Oudin Chablis 2022

While we love sharing the wonderful wines of California, Oregon, and Australia, it’s always a pleasure to try Chardonnay from its home region of Burgundy. Jean-Claude Oudin and his wife Christiane moved to Chablis in 1988, founding Domaine Oudin on a five-acre vineyard. Today their daughters, Nathalie and Isabelle, farm the now 25-acre property, and make absolutely delicious wine. This Chablis is a textural success. The nose has a minerality of a babbling brook with subtle citrus hints. The palate has an intriguing weight, lifted by a refreshing acidity.

Average price: $34
Rating: 92

Failla Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2022

Gone are the days where California Chardonnay just means big and oaky. While there are still good examples of that style, the more mineral-driven versions of Chardonnay are here to stay. And Failla is showing us how it’s done. The nose has a great complexity with notes of jasmine flowers, green herbs, and saline. The palate is elegant with supple depth and wonderful acidity.

Average price: $34
Rating: 95

The Calling Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2021

Here we have a Chardonnay that leans into the oak-derived characteristics, and it’s a success. The Calling is a collaboration between founders Jim Nantz, Peter Deutsch, and winemaker James MacPhail — who knows how to bring elegance and depth into a classic Cali style. It has a soft, oaky nose with subtle fruit. The rich palate is balanced by great acidity that breaks through the depth.

Average price: $35
Rating: 94

Materra Cunat Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2021

This is a Napa Valley Chardonnay that hits the sweet spot in terms of balance. It has a slight toast on the nose with some pear and tropical fruit vibes. The palate has a soft, medium depth balanced by active acidity.

Average price: $36
Rating: 93

Domaine Anderson Estate Chardonnay 2021

Historic Champagne house Louis Roederer saw potential in Northern California’s Anderson Valley, purchasing a 580-acre winery and vineyard site in the area in 1982. Unsurprisingly, the estate focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, crafting site-specific wines from its vineyards. The estate Chardonnay is a great entry point. It has a mineral-driven nose with hints of vanilla from oak aging. The palate is even, with a juicy, round mouthfeel.

Average price: $40
Rating: 90

Forlorn Hope Petite Voile Chardonnay 2018

Petit voile means small veil. During the 2019 harvest, Forlorn Hope’s vigneron Matthew Rorick and winemaker Mara Ambrose found a neglected wine barrel filled with Chardonnay from the previous vintage. The two feared that the forgotten wine would be spoiled, but it turned out that a thin veil of yeast had formed, protecting the wine. The result was so awesome they had to share. This wine has a delightful salty nose with subtle floral aromas. The palate has the slightest hint of oxidative notes, adding a pleasant savory complexity.

Average price: $40
Rating: 94

One Woman Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2017

As the name suggests, the One Woman winery was started by one woman, Claudia Purita. In 2001, Purita closed her restaurant and bought an old potato farm on Long Island, and has slowly transformed the area into a certified sustainable vineyard and winery. This estate-grown reserve Chardonnay is still shining with about seven years of age on it. The nose has slight oxidative hints, along with subtle notes of citrus and orchard fruit. The palate is even and full with impressive depth and absolute balance. An age-worthy and delicious wine from Long Island.

Average price: $40
Rating: 95

Cristom Vineyards Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2022

Cristom Vineyards was established in 1992 by Paul and Eileen Gerrie — the name Cristom is a combination of their children’s names, Christine and Tom (who’s now the head winemaker). A family-owned winery for over 30 years, Cristom is dedicated to sustainability and organic farming in the Eola-Amity Hills subregion of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This bottling, sourced from several vineyard sites in the region, offers soft stone fruit and minerals on the nose. The palate is engaging with a textured mouthfeel, and perfectly balanced fruit and acidity.

Average price: $45
Rating: 92

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2022

Margaret River in Western Australia is renowned for its expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. And it’s all thanks to Vasse Felix, the winery that founded the region in 1967. This Chardonnay is made from a selection of the winery’s top sites. It has a toasty, waxy nose balanced by white peach and pear aromas. The palate is round with good depth and an even finish.

Average price: $45
Rating: 92

Lady of the Sunshine Chêne Vineyard Chardonnay 2022

Gina Giugni started Lady of the Sunshine in 2017 with a focus on regenerative, organic, and biodynamic farming in California’s Central Coast. This bottle from the biodynamic Chêne Vineyard in San Luis Obispo shows a mineral-driven nose with notes of grapefruit juice and lemon zest. The palate is lean and refreshing with an interesting olive oil-like texture from time aging on the lees.

Average price: $46
Rating: 92

Rijckaert Arbois ‘En Paradis’ Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2020

Arbois, a subregion of France’s Jura, is only an hour and change from the famous Beaune region of Burgundy. Similar to Burgundy, producers in this region make stellar Chardonnay, but here, it hits different. The nose is mineral-driven and focused. The palate is textured with beautiful fruit balance and crisp acidity.

Average price: $48
Rating: 94

Best Chardonnays Under $100

Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2022

The Cakebread family has been making a name for itself for decades in California’s Napa Valley. Cakebread’s wines have a light touch with a ton of balance and character. The wine is savory on the nose, with subtle oak notes showing the wine’s depth. The palate is wonderfully delicate with a nice grip and a mineral finish. Your palate will swoon.

Average price: $50
Rating: 93

McIntyre Family Wines Block K1 Chardonnay 2018

The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA on California’s Central Coast is the land of John Steinbeck, and the wine is as plentiful as the produce but grown in the slopes of mountains, enjoying a coastal breeze. This Chardonnay comes from a special selection from the estate vineyard, and the grapes were harvested on two separate dates to create a uniquely balanced wine. It has an almost savory nose with some herbs and ripe pear aromas. The palate is also savory and balanced with great richness and complexity. .

Average price: $52
Rating: 93

Reeve Wines ‘Mirama’ Chardonnay 2022

We’re constantly impressed by Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast, and Reeve’s Mirama bottling is meant to highlight the qualities of cool-climate, coastal fruit. The nose offers notes of lemon, green apples, and a hint of ginger, accented by well-integrated oak elements. The palate is wonderfully balanced, with fresh citrus and savory notes in harmony with the vibrant acidity.

Average price: $54
Rating: 93

Rhys Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay 2021

Rhys Vineyards is focused on California’s mountainous vineyards. This Chardonnay comes from the Santa Cruz Mountains on the coast south of San Francisco. The region doesn’t get the same attention as AVAs north of the City by the Bay, but a wine like this should definitely pique your interest. It has a wonderful toasted oak nose with subtle fruit. That toasted aroma carries to the palate, which also offers notes of creamy lemon curd and bright green apple. The wine is focused, and balanced with refreshing acidity.

Average price: $55
Rating: 94

Nalle Winery Hopkins Ranch Chardonnay 2021

This is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay from California’s Russian River Valley AVA. What does that mean? It means a subtle nose with hints of vanilla, spices, and herbs. It means a stunning palate with both elegance and depth. The oak aging gives this wine a wonderful texture and mouthfeel that draws you in.

Average price: $58
Rating: 94

Alma Rosa Winery El Jabali Chardonnay 2021

Chardonnay is grown all over California, but bottles from Napa sometimes outshine wines from other regions. Enter this shining light from the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. The nose shows warming notes of baking spices. There’s great balance on the palate between fruit and acid, and the oak aging leads to a long, complex finish.

Average price: $60
Rating: 94

Massican Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay 2022

Winemaker Dan Petroski had a mission. To produce Mediterranean-inspired white wines in California’s Napa Valley with uncommon grapes like Ribolla Gialla and Friulano. He has succeeded in spades. Petroski also makes a Chardonnay — but unlike any you’ve had from here. It has an herby, mineral nose with gingered pear notes and a slight umami vibe. The palate has grip and balance with excellent texture and depth.

Average price: $60
Rating: 94

Smith Story Wine Cellars Olivet Lane Chardonnay 2021

Olivet Lane was one of the first vineyards to be planted in the Russian River Valley. It has been a sought-after source of fruit ever since, and we can see why here. The nose has comfortable notes of vanilla and spices from oak aging. It’s well-structured on the palate with rich fruit notes and balanced acidity.

Average price: $64
Rating: 90

Hirsch Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2022

Hirsch won VinePair’s Next Wave Award for winery of the year in 2022, and vintage after vintage we’re reminded why. This estate Chardonnay shows a nose of crisp apples, pears, and subtle herbs. But it’s the palate that will make you swoon. It’s rich, grippy and lush with an amazing finish and texture. It’s kind of epic.

Average price: $65
Rating: 96

Las Jaras Wines Alder Springs Chardonnay 2021

La Jaras is well known for its famous “Glou Glou” bottle. But after this wine, we think Las Jaras should be famous for its Chardonnay. This wine comes from the cool-climate Alder Springs vineyard in Mendocino, Calif., and it’s a stunner. It has a mineral nose and subtle fruit with an extremely balanced palate. The mouthfeel has a beautiful texture and a slight grip. It’s just so damned balanced.

Average price: $68
Rating: 94

Sangiacomo Wines Home Ranch Chardonnay 2022

This is as California as it gets. Made from the Wente clone of Chardonnay, a clone developed specifically to grow in the Golden State, from the family’s original vineyards on the Sonoma Creek. It has a subtle nose and a deep, textured palate with soft fruit and supportive acidity.

Average price: $68
Rating: 93

Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2021

Chateau Montelena was part of the Judgment of Paris in the late ‘70s that put Napa Valley on the map. But the real success is the winery’s consistent showing of elegance and quality. This vintage may be one of its best, with savory herb, citrus, and pear with the slightest hint of oak yet still present and accounted for. The palate is liquid gold with soft supple depth and extreme balance. Elegant and grippy and amazing.

Average price: $75
Rating: 98


What is Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is a grape variety originally from France’s Burgundy region, where it’s often labeled under Bourgogne Blanc or Chablis. Chardonnay is one of the world’s most popular wine grapes, and is now planted in different regions across the globe, including California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Australia’s Margaret River, and more.

Is Chardonnay white wine?

Yes, Chardonnay is a white grape variety that produces a white wine. It’s one of the most popular white wines in the world, along with Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

Is Chardonnay dry or sweet?

Generally speaking, Chardonnay is a dry white wine. Some expressions might be more fruit-forward than others, but they don’t typically contain any residual sugar. In some rare instances, Chardonnay can be used to make sweet dessert wines. Ultimately, it depends on the bottle.

Is Chardonnay always oaked?

Chardonnay is often referred to as “the winemaker’s grape” since it is amenable to many different styles. Therefore, Chardonnay can be made with or without oak; it just depends on which expression the producer is going for. Since the use of oak can be quite divisive, many wineries now state on the bottle or on their website how the wine is aged, whether in stainless steel tanks, older, neutral barrels, or new oak barrels that impart a heavier oak flavor.

Should you refrigerate Chardonnay after opening?

Yes! Once you’ve opened a bottle of Chardonnay (or any wine, really), you should seal it as tightly as possible and store it in the refrigerator to keep it as fresh as possible. In the fridge, an opened bottle of Chardonnay will be good for about one week.

What are good regions for Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is the fifth most planted wine grape around the world, but its style varies based on where it’s grown. Some of the world’s most revered Chardonnays come from the Burgundy region in France, but regions in Italy, the United States, Chile, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand also produce good Chardonnay as well. (Check out this guide on the World’s Best Places for Growing Chardonnay.)

VinePair’s tasting methodology

Throughout the year, VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column, and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to provide a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.

Tastings are not typically conducted blind. In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and — importantly — the price.

The article The 30 Best Chardonnays for 2024 appeared first on VinePair.

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