The 9 Best Chardonnays To Drink Right Now, From Napa To Burgundy

We know there’s a lot of people out there that don’t like or won’t drink Chardonnay. There’s even a group of people who subscribe to the ABC mantra—anything but Chardonnay—but we’re here to tell you that if you’re staying away from Chardonnay for whatever reason, you’re definitely missing one of winemaking’s best varieties.

We’ll start by saying that Chardonnay is a fairly neutral grape, in fact, almost a blank canvas that is easily manipulated by the winemaker’s hand. Of course, like all grapes, it is affected by the soil it is grown in as well as the weather, but the stylistic preference of the winemaker can determine if the wine in your glass is light and citrusy with bright acidity or bold and buttery with notes of spice and toast. We recognize that our ABC friends might not like the over oaked, buttery Chardonnay that flooded the market a few years back, but we want you to know that winemakers have listened and are making lighter wines, with less oak, and in many cases with no oak.

We have traveled the world, tasted thousands of 100 percent Chardonnay wines, and can tell you that these nine wines will change any negative opinions you might have. We also know that we’re preaching to the Chardonnay loving choir as well. For those of you who fall into that category, we guarantee our picks will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Best Overall Chardonnay: Joseph Drouhin 2022 Beaune Clos des Mouches Premier Cru Burgundy France

The venerable maison of Joseph Drouhin is currently run by his four great-grandchildren who were all born in the 1960s. Working in the vineyards with their father, Robert, gave them valuable experience, not only in the business side, but also in the tradition of winemaking and grape growing. The vineyards where grapes for Beaune Clos des Mouches are grown total almost 16 acres and continue to produce this remarkable wine year after year, but we both feel the 2022 is exceptional. It has aromas of freesia, honeysuckle, Granny Smith apple, and toasted almonds. It is crisp and lively in the midpalate with flavors of lemon curd, acacia honey, mandarin orange peel, and white truffle. Drink now or over the next 12 years.

Joseph Drouhin

Best Napa Valley Chardonnay: Alpha Omega 2021 Chardonnay Napa Valley California

The winemakers at Alpha Omega chose to ferment the grapes for this stunning wine in 33 percent new French oak and then allowed the wine to undergo only partial malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for 19 months with periodic bâttonage—stirring of the lees—which gives voluptuous full-bodied sensation and generous mouthfeel. Aromas of honeysuckle, white peach, Fuji apple, and toasted barley prepare your palate for flavors of lemon curd, honeydew melon, bergamot flower, and baked Anjou pear.

Alpha Omega

Best Sonoma Valley Chardonnay: Chalk Hill 2021 Founder’s Block Chardonnay Chalk Hill AVA Sonoma California

Grapes for this delicious Chardonnay are grown in Chalk Hill’s historic vineyards which include the Chalk Hill Clone 97 Chardonnay vines developed in 2001 in partnership with University of California, Davis. The fact that Chalk Hill is the only winery to grow this clone and wines are only made in exceptional years makes this Chardonnay truly unique. Aged in barrel for 15 months including five months of bâttonage, the wine is unfiltered and unfined and has aromas of ripe pear, brown baking spices, and lemon zest. In the midpalate flavors of bright lemon, vanilla, and baked apple are knitted together to produce rounded texture and mouth filling layers.

Chalk Hill

Best Spanish Chardonnay: Familia Torres 2017 Milmanda Chardonnay Conca de Barberà Spain

Named for the medieval Milmanda Castle that sits in the middle of the vineyards, this is without a doubt the best Spanish Chardonnay we have ever tasted. It is aged in oak barrels for less than six months and then moved to stainless steel tanks to minimize the effects of wood on the wine. The result is a wine that has a round mouth feel without the heavy effects of too much oak. It has aromas of dried Mediterranean herbs, pineapple, and white peach that transition to a creamy midpalate filled with flavors of caramelized banana, toasted brioche, and lemon curd before the zesty finish.


Best South African Chardonnay: Capensis 2018 Chardonnay Western Cape South Africa

Capensis is a South African project lovingly fostered by Barbara Banke, chairman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines. She often takes a hands-on role in the development of JFW estates and together with winemaker Graham Weerts, a Cape Town native, and vineyard manager Cedrick Delport, the Capensis team makes stunning South African Western Cape Chardonnay. Grapes are sourced from five vineyards to give complexity and balance to the finished wine. It has aromas of lemon pith, toasted almond, and baked pear with great minerality upon entry leading to flavors of jasmine, toasted brioche, and white peach. Drink now through 2028.


Best Australian Chardonnay: Penfolds 2020 Yattarna Bin 144 Chardonnay Tasmania and Adelaide Hills South Australia Australia

Penfolds started making wine in 1844 but it wasn’t until 1998 that they launched the 1995 vintage Yattarna. Roughly translated from a local indigenous dialect, Yattarna means, “little by little, gradually” and the winemaking team at Penfolds feels that each harvest gives them the opportunity to improve their delightful Chardonnay bit by bit. The 2020 vintage is made from grapes grown in Tasmania and Adelaide Hills and is pale straw colored in the glass with aromas of freesia, jasmine, pear, wet river rocks, and just a touch of smoke. It is concentrated with nice heft on the palate and has flavors of mandarin orange peel, lemon pith, and toasted almonds. Drink now through 2035.


Best New Zealand Chardonnay: Kumeu River 2022 Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay Auckland New Zealand

Mick and Katé Brajkovich left Croatia in 1937 to emigrate to New Zealand and by 1944 they had saved enough money to purchase a plot of land in Henderson, West Auckland, near the Kumeu River. The grapes for this wine were grown in a vineyard named after their son, Maté who worked with them for years and carried on the family tradition with his own wife and children. It has enticing aromas pineapple, toasted hazelnuts, wet river rocks, and tropical fruits that transfer to flavors of caramelized banana, peach, lemon curd, and Honeycrisp apple.

Kumeu River

Best Croatian Chardonnay: Saints Hills 2021 Le Chiffre Chardonnay Istria Croatia

Ernest and Ivana Tolj named each of their vineyards after their “saintly” children and subsequently named their winery Saints Hills. Grapes for this delightful Chardonnay come from their second son Saint Ante’s vineyard in Istria and the resulting wine is brilliant gold in color with aromas of freshly cut pear, Fuji apple, and lemon-lime zest. It is full bodied with flavors of buttery pie crust, vanilla, apricot, and peach. Drink now through 2031.

Saints Hills

Best Chardonnay Under RM356: Three Sticks 2021 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma County California

This 100 per cent estate-grown and -produced wine starts out in the Durell Vineyard, whose 610 contiguous acres of rocky and volcanic soils straddle the Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley, and Carneros AVAs. The vineyard has earned certifications with Fish Friendly Farming and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and is well known for growing quality fruit. The 2021 vintage has aromas of chamomile tea, nectarine, and tangerine pith that transition to creamy flavors of lemon custard, mandarin, and freshly cut pineapple. It’s drinking perfectly right now, so why wait?

Three Sticks

Previously published on Robb Report USA

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