When you think of crisp and clean, what comes to mind? A glass of water? The sound of rain on the roof? A 1970s-era platform shoe? All of the above? Because crisp and clean are words used to describe a lot of things, but most agree that they are most often used in reference to white wine. And if you’re looking for a wine that is crisp and clean, you should try an unoaked chardonnay.
Chardonnay is the most widely grown white grape in the world, and for good reason. Its incredible versatility allows it to produce complex, maturing Champagne wines as well as coveted pure white Burgundy wines.
But while aged Chardonnays remain popular, unripened Chardonnays show a livelier side of the grape. All of these wines are fermented in stainless steel and range from light and simple to serious and mature.
Schild Estate 2019 Unwooded Chardonnay (Barossa Valley); $17, 92 points. This unoaked Chardonnay is a refreshing contrast to this producer’s many ripe, bold reds. It opens with a lively aroma of peach, melon and ginger, with a mineral and salty note in the background. The palate has a textural appeal. It has a creamy feel, but has a clean, appetizing acidity and a pure, fresh, fruity taste. Wine West USA. Editor’s Choice. -Cristina Picard
Balletto 2019 Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay (Russian River Valley); $20, 91 points. The estate-grown fruit has bright color and floral aromas on the nose, and peach, green apple and pear on the fleshy palate. Lasting freshness and concentration support its light, solid structure. -Virgini Boone
Four Vines 2019 Naked Chardonnay (Central Coast); $11, 91 points. This unbranded variety carries all the tropical characteristics of the style, starting with jasmine and pulpy guava fruit in the nose. The palate and acidity are generous, with pineapple, lychee, guava and stone fruit on the firm finish. Best buy. -Matt Kettleman
Saracina 2019 Unoaked Chardonnay (Mendocino); $20, 91 points. This medium-bodied wine is elegant and balanced, offering fresh flavors of lemon and green apple with a rather subtle acidic texture. It has nuance and complexity, as well as a nice tension of seductive acidity. -Jim Gordon
Tolosa 2019 No Oak Heritage Chardonnay (Central Coast); $23, 91 points. Lots of lemongrass and lime aromas give this wine a very fresh and spicy nose that also has elements of grapefruit zest and oyster shell. The palate is very dense, with flavors of lemon flesh and pomelo peach very acidic and concentrated. To drink from now until 2034. Selection in the basement. -M.K.
Chehalem 2019 INOX Unoaked Chardonnay (Chehalem Mountains); $20, 90 points. The fermentation and maturation process, which is completely free of run-off, emphasizes the fresh, lively fruit. Ripe enough to be deliciously sweet, it’s a combination of Meyer lemon, pineapple, and citrus blend into a generous, long-lasting flavor. -Paul Greggutt.
Forgeron 2019 Otherworldly Unoaked Chardonnay (Yakima Valley); $25, 90 points. The aromas of freshly cut apple and pear are followed by full flavors. The tart acidity enhances it. He has a good sense of racial purity. -Sean P. Sullivan
Fox Run 2019 Doyle Family Chardonnay (Seneca Lake); $13, 89 points. Vibrant aromas of orange blossom and lilies adorn the nose of this Chardonnay mixed with a small amount of Traminette. On the palate ripe, juicy pineapple and peach flavors, supported by a nice texture and bright acidity. This is a solid buy for those looking for a fruity but balanced white wine with a medium sugar content. Best buy. -Alexander Pertrey.
We recommend it:
Riedel Sommeliers Value Set Chablis/Chardonnay
Wine cellar EuroCave Professional 3181
Rough Day 2019 Unoaked Chardonnay (Thracian Valley); $12, 89 points. This Bulgarian white wine has aromas of white peach, honeysuckle and Granny Smith apple. On the palate, fresh acidity provides a crisp finish with flavors of apple, lemon curd and lemon zest. G&B Importers. Best buy. -Jeff Jenssen
Tormaresca 2019 Chardonnay (Puglia); $12, 88 points. This fun, fruity Chardonnay starts with aromas of banana, yellow apple and peach on the nose. The taste is light and invigorating, with notes of stone fruit and lemon, making it a balanced and enjoyable offering. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Best buy. -A.P.
Published on 23. April 2021
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best unoaked chardonnay?
The best unoaked chardonnay is one that brings out the chardonnay’s fresh, crisp, lemon-like flavors without making it seem too thin-bodied or light in comparison to oaked chardonnays. There are several factors that go into making an unoaked chardonnay, such as the grape variety, the country of origin, the winemaker, the grape growing region, and the harvesting age. With so many chardonnay’s to choose from, how do you know which is the best? There are several factors to consider when choosing an unoaked chardonnay: label, price, and region. If you are on a budget, check out the under $20 section. You will find some high quality, delicious bottles.
Where are the best Chardonnays from?
Chardonnay is one of the world’s most popular white wine varietals, originating in the Burgundy region of France. Like its fellow white grape, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay is often blended with other varietals, although there are some regions where it is the primary wine grape. The most common grape used in Chardonnay blends is Sauvignon Blanc. However, Chardonnay is also used to make Champagne, a sparkling wine with a slightly sweet flavor. Are you looking for a great oaky chardonnay? Maybe one with a hint of butterscotch that reminds you of fall weather? Maybe you’re looking for a crisp, dry chardonnay that will go well with your seafood dinner. Maybe you want a big-bodied, buttery chardonnay with a hint of vanilla. Or maybe you just want to drink a nice glass of chardonnay and you have no idea what you want!
What is unoaked chardonnay?
Most people think of wine as coming in either red or white varieties. However, there is actually a third type, known as unoaked chardonnay. This form of wine is a great option for those who dislike the taste of oak, which is a common component in white wines. In fact, the wine is oaked in only 2% of wineries, so it is naturally a rare offering. What is unoaked chardonnay? Chardonnay is a white grape widely grown in the cooler climates of the world. It is the most grown grape in France, where the best wines are made. The idea of unoaked chardonnay is to preserve the fresh fruity flavor of the wine that is created from the grape.
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